July 10, 2020
Track Specs: 1.5-mile oval / 200 laps
Weather: Partly cloudy; 75 degrees
No. 8 Poppy Bank Chevrolet Camaro
Daniel Hemric, driver of the No. 8 Poppy Bank Chevrolet, ran inside the top five for much of Friday evening’s NASCAR Xfinity Series event at Kentucky Speedway, racing up to as high as the second position in the closing laps before a late-race caution bunched the field back together. On the final restart of the night, Hemric charged into the first corner as the race leader but a loose-handling condition quickly developed, shuffling Hemric outside of the top five as a chaotic scramble for position ensued in the closing laps. On the final lap, Hemric was fighting to get back into the top five before contact coming off of Turn 4 forced the JR Motorsports driver into the outside retaining wall, resulting in a ninth-place finish for the Poppy Bank team.
Stage One Finish: 9th
Getting behind the wheel for the second NXS event of the week, Hemric had to take the green flag from the rear of the field as a result of both a driver change between the two races and the use of a backup car following damage sustained to the No. 8 Camaro on Thursday. Despite having to start from the back, the driver of the Poppy Bank Chevrolet charged forward, improving 13 positions in the opening two laps before the first caution of the evening was displayed. Hemric’s ascent up the leaderboard didn’t stop there, as he took advantage of the ensuing restart to drive into the top 15 and up to 12th by the time the competition caution was displayed on lap 20. Hemric again climbed toward the front following the competition caution, utilizing the final 20 laps of the opening stage to move into the top 10 and take the green-and-white checkered flag on lap 45 in the ninth position, earning two valuable stage points in the process.
Stage Two Finish: 5th
During the stage-ending caution, Hemric reported to crew chief Taylor Moyer that the Poppy Bank Chevrolet was fighting a loose-handling condition rolling through the corners. As a result, Moyer called Hemric to pit road for four tires and an air-pressure adjustment in the hopes of improving the handling, sending the Kannapolis, N.C. native back out for the beginning of Stage Two in the seventh position. Once back underway, Hemric again pressed onward, racing into the top five during the caution-free second stage to take the green-and-white checkered flag on lap 90 in the fifth position. This stage-ending result also earned Hemric an additional six stage points.
Final Stage: 9th
While under the final stage-break of the evening, Moyer called the driver of the Poppy Bank Chevrolet back to pit road after Hemric had reported that the handling had begun to shift toward the tight side. The 2019 NASCAR Cup Series Rookie of the Year returned to the track following the stop for the beginning of Stage Three in the sixth position and wasted little time marching forward, taking advantage of a long green-flag run to drive up to the second position by lap 140. Hemric held steady in second until the lone round of green-flag pit stops commenced on lap 146. Hitting pit road for four tires and an air-pressure adjustment, Hemric cycled back out to second and in a tight battle with the No. 19 of Brandon Jones.
The duo fought for position for several laps before Jones got sideways on the inside of Turn 1 and forced Hemric to make an evasive maneuver, causing the JRM driver to make slight contact with the outside retaining wall. Moyer made the call to bring Hemric to pit road with the rest of the lead lap cars during the caution period that followed. A fast four-tire stop by the Poppy Bank crew allowed Hemric to remain in the second position for what turned out to be the final restart of the evening on lap 187.
Taking the green flag as the first car on the inside line, Hemric made a power move heading into the first corner, coming away with the race lead before the Poppy Bank Chevrolet snapped sideways and sent the No. 8 Camaro up the track and out of the preferred groove. Undeterred by the loss of track position Hemric continued to fight, racing hard for a spot within the top five over the closing laps with Anthony Alfredo and JRM teammates Justin Allgaier, Noah Gragson and Michael Annett. However, contact while battling on the outside line for the fifth position on the final lap forced Hemric up the track and into wall, halting the Poppy Bank Chevrolet’s forward progress and ultimately leading to a ninth-place finish.
With the top-10 result, the No. 8 team now sits 10th in the NXS owner standings, 36 points ahead of the 12th and final playoff position.
Daniel Hemric, driver No. 8 Poppy Bank Chevrolet team
“We had some really good speed with our Poppy Bank Chevrolet tonight and I can’t thank Taylor (Moyer, crew chief) and all of the guys on this JR Motorsports team for all of their hard work. These guys worked their tails off to get this car ready to go and we were quick right from the drop of the green flag. I just hate that we ran into some trouble there at the end but I feel like we are definitely heading into the right direction as we move forward.”
Hemric returns to the No. 8 Chevrolet in two weeks at Kansas Speedway on Saturday, July 25.