May 22, 2020
Track Specs: 1.366-mile oval / 147 laps Weather: Partly cloudy; 75 degrees
No. 8 Poppy Bank Chevrolet Camaro
Synopsis: Daniel Hemric, driver of the No. 8 Poppy Bank Chevrolet, earned a hard-fought sixth-place finish in the first NASCAR Xfinity Series event since March 7 on Thursday afternoon at Darlington Raceway. Hemric battled inside the top five for much of the final stage in the afternoon matinee before ultimately taking the checkered flag in sixth following a late-race caution period. The result is Hemric’s second top-10 finish of 2020 and his ninth top-10 in his last 11 NXS starts dating back to Richmond Raceway in September of 2018.
Stage One Finish: 7th
With the starting lineup being set by a blind draw earlier in the week, Hemric took the green flag for the first NXS event in over 10 weeks from the 23rd position. Once underway, the Kannapolis, N.C. native wasted little time charging toward the front, needing just four laps to race into the top 15. The driver of the Poppy Bank Chevrolet continued his climb from there, racing into the top 10 for the first time just before the scheduled competition caution was displayed on lap 15. Following a four-tire pit stop during the caution period, Hemric pressed onward, driving up to the seventh position by the time the green-and-white checkered flag was displayed to end Stage One on lap 45. The stage-ending result netted Hemric four valuable stage points.
Stage Two Finish: 6th
During the stage-ending caution, crew chief Taylor Moyer called the driver of the Poppy Bank Chevrolet to pit road for four tires and a chassis adjustment after Hemric had reported that he was really free rolling through the corner at the end of the run. Returning to the track in sixth following the stop, Hemric maintained his track position throughout the caution-free second stage and battled to try to break into the top five with JR Motorsports teammate Michael Annett before the green-and-white checkered flag was displayed once again to end Stage Two on lap 90. The stage finish also earned Hemric an additional five stage points, bringing his race total to nine.
Final Stage: 6th
Prior to the beginning of the third and final stage, Moyer called Hemric back to pit road for four tires and another round of adjustments. The driver of the Poppy Bank Chevrolet exited pit road in the fifth position, which meant that he would have to line up on the inside line for the ensuing restart. Despite not restarting in the preferred line, Hemric marched forward and fought hard for track position inside the top five with JRM teammates Annett and Noah Gragson. Hemric ultimately prevailed in the battle with his teammates and raced up to the third position before a caution on lap 132 provided Moyer with another opportunity to put fresh tires on the Poppy Bank Chevrolet.
Lining up for the lap 138 restart in fifth, Hemric was trapped on the inside line through the first and second corner, shuffling the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series Rookie of the Year back to sixth. With the laps winding down, Hemric fought to try to rejoin the top five but ran out of time, ultimately taking the checkered flag in the sixth position.
The result is Hemric’s second top 10 of the young season and his best finish to date for JRM through his first four starts for the organization.
“We had a really good Poppy Bank Chevrolet today and I can’t thank my guys on this No. 8 team enough. I thought we were in a really good position to get a solid top-three finish there before we got stuck on that bottom line for that last restart. But overall, it felt good to get back behind the wheel and I just have to give a big thank you to all of the guys at JR Motorsports for all of their hard work. I feel like we have something to build on going forward and we’ll get ready to do that on Monday night in Charlotte. You know there’s nothing better than a home race. Bring it on.”