It may not be wrapped up in a box or have a ribbon on it, but Daniel Hemric has already received an early Christmas/Wedding gift from his fiancée Kenzie Ruston. Hemric will pilot the No. 98 Carswell Motorsports car, the car which Ruston piloted full time in 2016, during the 49th Annual Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway (FL).
“I’m pumped. I’ve been out of the Super Late Model a little bit longer this year than I’ve been in the past,” Hemric told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “It will be good to get back to the Derby and go have a little fun back with Carswell Motorsports. I always enjoy piloting the No. 98 so I’m looking forward to another shot at it. Hopefully we can go down there and have a good weekend.”
Hemric, who drove the car to a Southern Super Series championship in 2013, said that the deal to drive the Carswell entry was something that came up recently after talks with Ruston and the team. Ultimately, it was Ruston’s decision to put her fiancé behind the wheel of the car for the biggest Super Late Model race of the year.
“It kind of dates back to earlier this year. We were trying to figure out what Super Late Model races I could run in conjunction with what they wanted to run at Carswell Motorsports. We planned on Kenzie running 10 races then it turned into her running the whole deal,” Hemric explained. “She wanted me to run some of the bigger shows. They had some good runs here and there and it seemed right to keep her in the seat.
“As the last couple days went by leading up to this week, she was confident in what I could do with the car down there. Ultimately it was her decision to ask me to get back in it. I’m really appreciative of her and everyone else at Carswell Motorsports for the opportunity to jump back in on such short notice. I’m truly looking forward to getting down there and having a good time.”
Hemric will jump back into a Super Late Model for the first time since last year’s Snowball Derby when he raced for Wauters Motorsports. The NASCAR XFINITY Series racer for Richard Childress Racing has scored a pair of major Late Model wins – the All-American 400 and Redbud 300 – but the Snowball Derby is a race that has eluded him.
He’s hoping that this will be the year he can check the most prestigious Super Late Model race of the year off of his bucket list.
“You don’t know how many opportunities you’re going to have to come back and get those wins you didn’t get,” Hemric stated. “Coming back, I still feel like there are a few empty spots that I’d like to check off the win list, especially the Snowball Derby with the prestige of that event. I’ve been fortunate enough to get a few of those crown jewel events, but the Snowball Derby would definitely be at the top of that list.”
With Christmas and a wedding coming up during the offseason, Hemric would be perfectly content with the Snowball Derby opportunity being his only gift.
“You can call it an early Christmas gift or an early wedding gift, it’s all right here together,” Hemric joked. “In my opinion, the Snowball Derby is one of the greatest weekends in all of racing, so to be able to go be a part of it again is something very special. Everybody going down there has as good of a shot as anybody that makes it in the show. We’ve got to keep our heads pointed in the right direction and try to get ourselves looked in and go racing.”
The 49th Annual Snowball Derby weekend kicks off on Wednesday, November 30 with the Cat Country/WEAR TV3 Green Flag Pit Party and Qualifying Order Draw Down.
Thursday, December 1 will see the Super Late Models take to the track for the first official Snowball Derby practice. The night will be highlighted by a 30-lap race for the Butler U-Pull-It Bombers and a 50-lap event for the Dock on the Beach Sportsmen division.
The top Snowball Derby starting spots will be set on Friday, December 2 during NASH FM 102.7 Pole Night. The Faith Chapel Super Stocks and the Modifieds will each run 50-lap features.
The Pro Late Models take center stage on Saturday, December 3 for the Allen Turner Hyundai Snowflake 100. The 50-lap Last Chance Qualifier for the Snowball Derby and a 50-lap feature for the Beef O’Brady’s Pro Truck division will also run on Saturday night.
Then on Sunday, December 4 the green flag will fly over the 49th Annual Snowball Derby. The 300-lap race will begin at 2 p.m. CT.
For more information on the 49th Annual Snowball Derby weekend at Five Flags Speedway, visit www.snowballderby.com. All media credential requests and inquiries for the Snowball Derby can be sent to Pat Bryant at [email protected]
Race fans unable to make their way to Pensacola, Florida during Snowball Derby week will be able to watch all of the racing action live on Speed51.com. Four-day video tickets are now available at a savings of $20. Visit Speed51.com today for more information.