12th at Homestead clinches Rookie of the Year
No. 8 myblu Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Daniel Hemric ran strong all evening in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, scoring a 12th-place finish and securing the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series for the 2019 season.
From Daniel Hemric's Rookie of the Year press conference following the race:
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by our Sunoco Rookie of the Year Daniel Hemric. Talk about what it means to you.
DANIEL HEMRIC: Yeah, it's pretty special to say the least. I wish we were able to win Rookie of the Year and have a couple more solid finishes throughout the year than what we had, but about five or six years ago, myself and Preece somehow ended up tied with four or five races to go, so we knew we had to buckle down. And really proud of this group for doing that.
It's tough for them, obviously, with me announcing my plans over the last couple days, a lot of those guys' future is unknown. It's easy for them to lay down, and they didn't. They kept continuing to put their best effort in every single week. For the last three weeks, we were able to string three decent races together, tonight being one of our best of the year.
Just proud of those guys and the heart they continue to fight with. And a lot of really important people in our sport have been able to take these honors home, so I'm going to take pride in the Rookie of the Year title and look forward to the next chapter.
Q. This was really an intriguing Rookie of the Year contest. I mean, it really went back and forth. It was tight and ultimately came down to this race. Could you talk about that? Sometimes in other seasons it hasn't been so close, but it certainly was.
DANIEL HEMRIC: Yeah, you're right. I think it's a combination of a lot of things, but this package in itself, right, a lot of unknowns to kick the year off, and because of that it felt like there were times where we had made bigger gains than what the other rookie guys had, and next thing you know we were behind and they were making strides.
I felt like at times it can feel pretty volatile trying to figure out what path to go down, but on the other side of it, I felt like it made for good racing not only for the Rookie of the Year battle but throughout the entire season.
I wish it wouldn't have been as close as it was. We had to sweat way too much over the last two, three months, but really the dedication these guys committed to sticking to and putting the time and effort in, it was cool to see everyone really kind of latch on to what the Rookie of the Year battle was. I felt like I didn't get no questions about it throughout the summer months, and next thing you know, there's a rookie battle, and we were tied.
We were fortunate enough to come out on top tonight, and a ton of respect for Preece tonight. That guy has devoted his life as well as his family devoted their lives to racing. To see a guy like that have the opportunity he has, I'm pulling for him next year to continue to be better, and hopefully I can get back to this level and show I belong here.
Q. Daniel, you mentioned it off the top that this was one of your guys' best runs of the season. Is it gratifying for you and for this team to have a statement run to close it out?
DANIEL HEMRIC: Yes and no. It's bittersweet. You don't want to ‑‑ you want to go out on a good note for sure, but it's a spade being a spade. That's what I'm going to call it right here. There's so many different paths you can go down as a race team, from car builds to downforce to drag and all that stuff, and I felt like when we brought the car, I felt like what I needed in the seat of the race car, what I felt like I wanted and I needed week in and week out, we brought that particular race car four times out of 36 weeks. That's frustrating.
But I'm glad we were able to at least rally and at least stay committed to the path of bringing the best piece possible to Homestead. Those guys could have just said, hey, we've got a car built already with a different body, we'll come down here and see what happens, but that's not what they did. I hate to whine about that, but I just wish we had a little better fair shake at it, but that's life. Not going to cry about it, not going to lose sleep about it, but that's just part of it.
Q. Reddick got the title last night, you get Rookie of the Year today. How special that to bring some of these accolades to Richard in his 50th anniversary?
DANIEL HEMRIC: Yeah, I don't want that to get lost in things. 50 years RCR has been in existence, and what Richard and Miss Judy and that organization has done for countless number of people throughout our industry, they've changed lives and done it in bulk.
To be able to see Reddick do what he did, between himself and his crew chief, Randall, and that whole group last night, the job they did was exceptional all year, to bring RCR another Xfinity Series championship. And at the beginning of every year we all set a certain amount of boxes that we all want to check, and we were able to check off a couple of those throughout the year, and tonight was a big one we wanted to accomplish.
Yeah, just feels good to be a part of some success, and yeah, just very thankful for the opportunity from RC and ECR and all the folks back in Welcome, North Carolina, for the last three years.
Q. Next year I know it's not a full season, but how excited are you to have the opportunity you've got with JRM, and I think you said you're hoping to be back at this level?
DANIEL HEMRIC: Yeah, I'm really pumped up starting right to getting to work on that deal. It's kind of a breath of fresh air knowing I've got the opportunity to go back and ‑‑ on the heels of that question, having runs like tonight make me go into the off‑season knowing I can compete and race at this level.
It's the little things when you have a season like we've had that get you over that emotional hump. I mean, I passed a seven‑time champion on the last lap of a 60‑lap run at Homestead. Those are little victories you find in the light at the end of the tunnel in years like this.
I go into tomorrow, into next year knowing that I have an incredible opportunity with JR Motorsports and have Dale and Kelley, LW, everyone I've been dealing with over there for the last couple weeks giving me the shot. It is a breath of fresh air. Got some really good racetracks lined up on the schedule that we're still somewhat putting together, but there's a lot opportunity there to go out, and there's no gray area. They know why I'm coming there. They know my goal is to get back to this level, and I feel like it'll be a full force effort to get me back.