Oct. 3, 2020
Track Specs: 2.66-mile asphalt tri-oval / 113 laps
Weather: Sunny, 70 degrees
No. 8 Poppy Bank Chevrolet Camaro
Daniel Hemric was in position to fight for the victory in the closing laps of Saturday afternoon’s NASCAR Xfinity Series event at Talladega Superspeedway, drafting with JR Motorsports teammate Noah Gragson inside the top three with less than three laps to go. However, as the lead pack began to jockey for position on the final lap, Hemric moved to the middle lane in the hopes of getting back to the front, but an incident behind the race leaders down the backstretch forced NASCAR to throw the caution flag. Due to the caution coming out, the race was concluded under yellow with the driver of the Poppy Bank Chevrolet scored in the fifth position. With the top-five result, the No. 8 team jumps to sixth in the owner standings, 10 points ahead of the eighth and final playoff position heading into the final race in the Round of 12 next week at the Roval at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Stage One Finish: 9th
Hemric took the green flag for the 113-lap event from the fifth position after the field was set via NASCAR’s new mathematical formula earlier in the week. After initially being shuffled toward the back of the lead pack in the opening laps, the driver of the Poppy Bank Chevrolet settled in to the inside line behind JRM teammate Gragson. Once on the bottom, Hemric began to patiently race his way forward, drafting back into the top 10 by the completion of lap 21. From there the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series Rookie of the Year continued to make moves, taking advantage of the final four laps of the caution-free opening stage to take the green-and-white checkered flag in the ninth position and earn two extremely valuable stage points in the process.
Stage Two Finish: 3rd
During the stage-ending caution, crew chief Taylor Moyer called Hemric to pit road for four tires and a chassis adjustment after the driver of the Poppy Bank Chevrolet had reported that he was tight on the exit of the corners and free-rolling through the tri-oval in the draft. Returning to the track in 14th following the stop, the Kannapolis, N.C. native wasted little time charging forward, utilizing the outside line to draft into the top five behind JRM teammates Justin Allgaier and Gragson. Once inside the top five, Hemric held steady behind the race leaders, patiently drafting in the lead pack until a rash of late cautions set up a one-lap shootout to the completion of Stage Two. Lining up as the second car on the inside line, Hemric held off a charge from Justin Haley to take the green-and-white checkered flag in the third position and earn an additional eight valuable stage points, bringing the No. 8 team’s total for the race to 10.
While under caution following Stage Two, Moyer again called Hemric to pit road for right-side tires and fuel. However, a variety of strategies among the front runners saw the driver of the Poppy Bank Chevrolet line up for the beginning of the third and final stage in the eighth position. Once back under way, Hemric rapidly ascended up the leaderboard, working with teammates Gragson and Michael Annett to march back into the top five and up to the fourth position on the outside line. Now back inside the top five, Hemric and the rest of the front runners remained in lock-step formation around the top, logging laps until the window opened up for the lone round of green flag pit stops. Then, as the lead pack began to make their way to pit road under green on lap 75, an incident on the exit of Turn 4 led to the caution flag being displayed. However, due to the quick thinking of spotter Tab Boyd, Hemric was able to make a hard right before hitting the commitment line on the entry of pit road to stay on the track and avoid a penalty for pitting while pit road was closed.
When the opportunity to pit did come during the caution period, Hemric brought the Poppy Bank Chevrolet in for left-side tires and fuel. However, due to the caution coming out as the field began green- flag pit stops, the entire running order was shaken up, meaning that Hemric lined up for the lap- 83 restart in the 18th position. Despite the loss of track position Hemric quickly moved forward, making a strong three-wide move on the outside line to race back into the top 10 and up to ninth by the time the caution flag was displayed once again on lap 91.
Lining up behind teammate Gragson for the ensuing restart, the JRM duo wasted little time mounting a charge on the race lead, needing just one lap to move into the second and third positions, respectively. Now inside the top three the teammates chose to ride patiently behind race leader Chase Briscoe, biding their time and waiting for the right moment to go for the lead. That moment arrived as the field came to two laps to go, but all of the lane shifting up front caught Hemric in the middle lane with little drafting help. That momentum changed as the field took the white flag as Hemric closed back in on the back bumper of Gragson. Unfortunately, Hemric’s attempt to take advantage of the momentum on the outside line was cut short as the caution flag was displayed for an incident down the back straightaway. Due to this caution coming out on the final lap, the race would be concluded under yellow.
As a result, Hemric was scored with a fifth-place finish.
With the top-five result on the afternoon, the No. 8 team now sits sixth in the owner’s standings, 10 points ahead of the eighth and final playoff position with one race remaining in the Round of 12 for the NXS Playoffs.
Daniel Hemric, driver No. 8 Poppy Bank Chevrolet team
“We had a really fast Poppy Bank Chevrolet today. Hats off to Taylor (Moyer, crew chief) and all the guys on this JR Motorsports team for all of their hard work. We were in the right position coming down to the end there and I hate that we didn’t get a chance to do anything on that last lap with the caution coming out. But, today was a solid day for us in our fight for this owner’s championship and keeps our momentum heading in the right direction looking ahead to next week at the Roval. Hopefully we can come away with another solid day there and move on to the next round of these playoffs with this No. 8 team.” \
The NASCAR Xfinity Series heads to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the road course race on Saturday, Oct. 10. NBC, PRN Radio, and SiriusXM 90 has the broadcast beginning at 3:30 p.m. EDT.