Hemric Advances to Championship 4 After Finishing Third at Martinsville
Date: October 30, 2021
Event: Dead On Tools 250 (Round 32 of 33)
Series: NASCAR Xfinity Series
Location: Martinsville Speedway (.528-mile oval)
Format: 250 laps (Stages: 60 laps / 60 laps / 130 laps)
Start / Finish: 7th / 3rd (Running, 257 of 257 laps)
Point Standing: 3rd (3147 points, -43 points out of first)
Race Winner: Noah Gragson
Stage 1 Winner: Austin Cindric
Stage 2 Winner: Noah Gragson
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-60)
Daniel Hemric started Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Martinsville Speedway from the seventh position and finished second in stage one.
The Poppy Bank Toyota Supra quickly worked its way up the leaderboard early in the race as Hemric cracked the top five on lap 9 and was up to fourth by the time the first caution waved on lap 15. Shortly after the ensuing restart, Hemric grabbed third from teammate Ty Gibbs.
Following the competition caution, Hemric bypassed AJ Allmendinger for second and set his sights on the leader.
A caution on lap 48 forced teams to decide between staying on track for the closing stretch of the stage or pitting in order to stay out when the segment ended on lap 60. For the No. 18 team, crew chief Dave Rogers told Hemric to stay on track and maintain his track position.
The No. 18 Supra restarted third with seven laps remaining in the segment. Hemric moved back into second and held on to the runner-up position to earn nine stage points.
Rogers called Hemric to pit road between stages. He fell outside the top 15 after 16 cars who had pitted earlier elected to stay out during the caution.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 61-120)
Hemric started 16th and finished sixth in stage two.
It didn’t take Hemric long to rebound back into the top 10. He was running 10th on lap 80 as he continued his march back towards the front.
The second stage ran green for its entirety and Hemric made his way back up to sixth when the green-checkered flag waved again on lap 120.
The Poppy Bank team pitted again between stages for four fresh tires and fuel.
Stage 3 Recap (Laps 121-257)
Hemric started the final stage in the sixth position and finished third in Saturday night’s race at Martinsville Speedway.
After restarting in the outside lane, Hemric lost multiple positions and fell to 12th before he was able to settle back into the inside groove. He eventually regained his momentum and found his way back up to 10th before another caution on lap 150.
Hemric didn’t shy away from choosing the outside lane for the ensuing restart as he lined up eighth and quickly established himself back in the low groove without losing any positions.
The No. 18 Supra charged back up to fifth before a caution on lap 179 brought all the leaders to pit road for four fresh tires and fuel.
Hemric’s running position fluctuated between fourth and sixth through a series of restarts and quick cautions.
He restarted fifth on lap 208 and grabbed third on lap 209 and then second on lap 211.
Hemric was scored second when the caution waved on lap 218 and chose to restart from the inside of the second row when the race resumed on lap 225.
The Poppy Bank Supra began to flex its muscle as the laps counted down. Hemric bypassed Noah Gragson for the lead on lap 232 and extended his advantage as the race drew to a close.
A caution on lap 244 bunched the field up again and sent the race into overtime.
Hemric restarted on the inside of the front row and received a slight tap from Austin Cindric as the field raced into turn one. The contact allowed Gragson to edge ahead of Hemric before a quick caution awarded Gragson the lead.
The No. 18 driver opted to line up in the inside of row two for a second overtime restart and Hemric ultimately ran out of laps as he finished third.
Hemric qualified for the Championship 4 for the third time in his NASCAR Xfinity Series career. He will battle AJ Allmendinger, Austin Cindric and Noah Gragson for the championship next Saturday at Phoenix Raceway.
Hemric’s third-place finish led Joe Gibbs Racing in Saturday night’s race. Brandon Jones ended the night sixth with Harrison Burton 20th and Ty Gibbs 27th.
Daniel Hemric, Driver of the No. 18 Poppy Bank Toyota Supra
How challenging was it down the stretch making decisions? “It’s the first time as a racer that I’ve had to choose to not put myself in the best position to win the race. I wanted to line up on the top. I felt like I could beat him if everything is all fair games, but the ultimate goal at the start of the season with this Poppy Bank Toyota Supra team was to do what we officially have a shot to do in Phoenix next weekend and that is to race for a championship. It just felt like we had a shot to minimize the damage and that’s what we did. I’m so disappointed though. This car should be in Victory Lane.” Next Up: The NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship will be decided next Saturday at Phoenix Raceway. The race will be broadcast live Saturday, November 6, at 8:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network, MRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. -JGR-