Oct. 17, 2020
Track Specs: 1.5-mile, asphalt tri-oval / 200 laps
Weather: Clear and 59 degrees
No. 8 Poppy Bank John Andretti Tribute Chevrolet Camaro
Daniel Hemric overcame being two laps down midway through Stage One of Saturday evening’s NASCAR Xfinity Series event at Kansas Speedway to earn a hard-fought second-place finish behind the wheel of the No. 8 Poppy Bank John Andretti Tribute Chevrolet. The result is Hemric’s fourth consecutive top-five finish and the second time he has finished in the runner-up position in 2020. The strong second-place effort also moves the No. 8 team to seventh in the owner’s standings, just 23 points behind the fourth and final cutoff position with two races remaining in the Round of 8.
Stage One Finish: 33rd
Honoring the life and legacy of John Andretti for the second time this season, Hemric lined up for the 200-lap event from the third position after the field was set via NASCAR’s mathematical formula earlier in the week. After initially being caught in a three-wide situation on the opening lap, Hemric settled in to the fifth position and remained there through a series of early caution periods. The driver of the Poppy Bank John Andretti Tribute Chevrolet continued to fight inside the top five until a loose-handling condition shuffled the JR Motorsports driver back to eighth just prior to the competition caution being displayed on lap 25.
Opting to stay out with the rest of the race leaders, Hemric took the lap-29 restart from the ninth position after utilizing the new choose rule to line up on the inside for the restart. Hemric continued to battle inside the top 10 once back under way until a flat left-front tire entering Turn 3 on lap 32 sent the Poppy Bank John Andretti Tribute Chevrolet into the outside retaining wall. Hemric subsequently was forced to make an unscheduled pit stop under green for four tires and repairs as a result of the flat tire and damage sustained from contact with the wall. Returning to the track two laps behind the race leaders, Hemric patiently rode around for the final laps of the opening stage to take the green-and-white checkered on lap 45 in the 33rd position.
Stage Two Finish: 15th
During the stage-ending caution, crew chief Taylor Moyer made the strategy call to keep Hemric out on the track to take the wave-around to get back to just one lap down. This decision was made in the hopes that a quick caution would come out with Hemric in the free-pass position, allowing him to get back onto the lead lap. Taking the green flag for the start of Stage Two in 31st, the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series Rookie of the Year was indeed scored in the free-pass position, and the fortuitous caution Moyer was strategizing for did come out before the field could complete the 51st lap.
Now back on the lead lap, Hemric went to work, methodically maneuvering his way through the field and needing just 13 laps to race back into the top 15. The driver of the Poppy Bank John Andretti Tribute Chevrolet maintained his top-15 track position throughout the final 17 laps of Stage Two, despite reporting to Moyer that he had developed a tight-handling condition from the center to the exit of the corner. Although not handling to his liking, Hemric was able to take the green-and-white checkered flag on lap 90 in the 15th position.
Moyer took the opportunity prior to the beginning of the final stage to bring Hemric back to pit road for four tires and a chassis adjustment in the hopes of alleviating the tight-handling condition. Returning to the track in 13th for the start of the final stage, Hemric again climbed forward, taking advantage of the long green-flag run that followed to race back into the top 10 and up to the ninth position before stabilizing among the race leaders. The JRM driver continued to fight inside the top 10 until Moyer made the strategy call to bring Hemric to pit road to kick-off the lone round of green-flag pit stops on lap 143. Hitting pit road for four tires and another round of adjustments, Hemric ultimately cycled back out in the ninth position before a lap-155 caution period brought the field back together again.
The Kannapolis, N.C. native remained inside the top 10 through the ensuing restart but was shuffled back to 12th by the time the caution flag was displayed once again on lap 167. During this caution, Moyer made the call to bring Hemric back to pit road for the team’s final set of fresh tires and a chassis adjustment. Lining up in 12th following the stop for the lap-172 restart, Hemric narrowly avoided carnage as the field entered the first corner as a multi-car wreck ensued during a four-wide battle directly in front of him. Dropping to the inside line, the driver of the Poppy Bank John Andretti Tribute Chevrolet was able to avoid all of the chaos to move back into the top 10.
Following a lengthy red flag for cleanup from the incident, Hemric, choosing the outside line, took the lap-177 restart from the 10th position. Once back under way the JRM driver made his move, needing just four laps to race back up to the fifth position and remained there until the final caution flag of the evening was displayed on lap 191. Choosing the outside line for the final restart on lap 196, Hemric found himself lining up directly behind race leader Chase Briscoe. Shoving Briscoe into Turn 1, Hemric took advantage of the outside line to charge into the second position by the time the field exited the second corner. Hemric held steady in second for the final three laps to secure his fourth consecutive top-five finish.
With the second-place result, the No. 8 team now moves to seventh in the owner’s standings, 23 points behind the fourth and final position with two races remaining to qualify for the Championship 4.
Daniel Hemric, driver No. 8 Poppy Bank John Andretti Tribute Chevrolet team
“What a resilient team. I can’t thank everyone on this No. 8 team enough. If you had told me we would’ve run second after we lost two laps, I wouldn’t have believed it. These guys don’t ever give up and it feels great to be able to come home with another solid finish and help us get closer to that goal of contending for this owner’s championship down in Phoenix. I also can’t thank Nancy (Andretti) and the entire Andretti family enough for their support in allowing us to run this John Andretti Tribute scheme again and giving it the strong run it deserves. Now it’s time to cheer on my teammate in this No. 8 Jeb (Burton) and hope we can keep this positive momentum going into the next two races of this round.”
Hemric's next race will be the season finale at Phoenix Raceway on Saturday, Nov. 7. That race will air a 4 p.m. EDT on NBCSN, MRN, and SiriusXM Channel 90.