Auto Club Speedway Feb. 29, 2020 Track Specs: 2-mile oval / 200 laps Weather: Sunny, 70 degrees
No. 8 Poppy Bank Chevrolet Camaro
Synopsis: Daniel Hemric, driver of the No. 8 Poppy Bank Chevrolet, ran inside the top five throughout Saturday afternoon’s NASCAR Xfinity Series event at Auto Club Speedway, leading for a total of 10 laps and earning stage points at the end of both Stage One and Two before ultimately taking the checkered flag in the seventh position. The result is Hemric’s eighth top-10 in his last nine NXS starts dating back to Richmond in September 2018.
Stage One Finish: 5th
Hemric took the green flag for the 150-lap event from fourth and maintained his track position inside the top five throughout the caution-free opening stage. Initially maneuvering up to second, Hemric settled in to fifth after reporting to crew chief Taylor Moyer that the Poppy Bank Chevrolet had developed a loose-handling condition rolling through the corner. Despite not handling to his liking, Hemric continued to fight and took the green-and-white checkered on lap 35 in the fifth position, earning six valuable stage points in the process.
Stage Two Finish: 2nd
Moyer called the driver of the Poppy Bank Chevrolet to pit road at the completion of Stage One for four tires and a chassis adjustment in the hopes of alleviating the loose-handling condition. Hemric returned to the track following the stop in the third position but took advantage of a three-wide move on the restart to charge into second. Hemric remained inside the top two for the duration of the second-consecutive caution-free stage, taking the green-and-white checkered flag on lap 70 in second and earning an additional nine stage points.
Final Stage: 7th
After a strong four-tire stop during the stage-ending caution by the Poppy Bank crew, Hemric lined up for the third and final stage as the race leader. Hemric went on to swap the lead back and forth with JR Motorsports teammate Justin Allgaier through a rash of caution periods. The duo continued to trade the top spot until a lap 91 caution provided Moyer with another opportunity to bring Hemric back to pit road for another set of four fresh tires.
The Kannapolis, N.C. native returned after the stop in sixth as the race leaders utilized a variety of strategies on pit road. On the ensuing restart, Hemric took advantage of the outside line to march back into the second position prior to the caution flag being displayed once again on lap 96.
The driver of the Poppy Bank Chevrolet remained in second when the race went back to green on lap 101 but was shuffled back to sixth after a handful of cars made contact while Hemric was battling three-wide for the race lead.
Undaunted by the loss of track position, Hemric pressed on, racing back up to fourth before the final caution flag of the afternoon was displayed on lap 126. Moyer opted to use this caution as an opportunity to bring Hemric back to pit road with the leaders to put the last set of fresh tires on the Poppy Bank Chevrolet. However, due to a wide-variety of strategies during the pit stops, Hemric found himself in the ninth position for the lap 131 restart.
Utilizing a never-give-up attitude, Hemric battled hard for the final 19 laps, improving two positions to take the checkered flag in the seventh position.
Hemric quotes: “Today was a good bounce back for everyone on the Poppy Bank team. It was good to get out front and lead some laps and I definitely feel like we have a good direction of where to go from here moving forward. I just can’t thank all my guys on this team and everyone at JR Motorsports enough. We’ll keep making gains on today and be ready to get after them next week in Phoenix.”