Daniel Hemric Wins NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship
With Dramatic Last Lap Pass
Date: November 6, 2021
Event: NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship (Round 33 of 33)
Series: NASCAR Xfinity Series
Location: Phoenix Raceway (1-mile tri-oval)
Format: 200 laps (Stages: 45 laps / 45 laps / 110 laps)
Start / Finish: 4th / 1st (Running, 204 of 204 laps)
Point Standing: 1st
Race Winner: Daniel Hemric
Stage 1 Winner: Austin Cindric
Stage 2 Winner: Daniel Hemric
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-45)
Daniel Hemric started Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship Race from the fourth position and finished second in stage one.
During the first stage, Hemric reported that his Poppy Bank Toyota Supra was a little too loose, but really proved its strength on the long runs as he was able to finish second in the opening 45-lap segment.
Between stages, Hemric pitted for four fresh tires, fuel, and a chassis adjustment. A great pit stop by the Poppy Bank team vaulted him to the race lead to begin stage two.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 46-90)
Hemric started first and won stage two.
After grabbing the lead on pit road, the Poppy Bank Supra led the field early in the second stage.
Following a lap-66 restart, Hemric slipped back to second behind JGR teammate John Hunter Nemechek.
Late in the segment, Hemric’s Supra came to life as he reclaimed the lead on lap 86.
He led the final five laps of the segment to earn his 10th stage win of the season.
The No. 18 team maintained the lead with another brilliant pit stop during the caution between stages.
Stage 3 Recap (Laps 91-204)
Hemric started the final stage as the leader and won the NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship Race at Phoenix Raceway.
The No. 18 driver held the lead through a series of cautions early in the final stage.
Hemric lost the lead prior to a caution on lap 125 that brought all the leaders to pit road. A slight hiccup on the pit stop dropped Hemric to fifth.
Coming to the restart, Hemric chose to restart on the inside of row two despite the inside lane struggling on restarts most of the night.
He captured the third position before another quick caution on lap 135 and then moved up to second because of a restart violation for the race leader.
Following the ensuing restart on lap 141, Hemric ran second for a bit before sliding back to third when Nemechek claimed the runner-up position on lap 151.
The race continued to run green and Hemric’s long-run speed proved to be a strength once again as he bypassed Nemechek for second on lap 176. Several laps later, a caution on lap 181 brought all the leaders to pit road for the final time.
Hemric restarted on the inside of the front row with 13 laps to go and held on to the second position until another caution on lap 189.
With eight laps remaining, Hemric restarted on the front row again beside defending series champion Austin Cindric.
The Kannapolis, North Carolina native battled Cindric from the inside lane and appeared to have the momentum to surge past the No. 22 before another caution flag thwarted his attempt to capture the top spot.
With the race going to overtime, Hemric once again restarted on the inside of Cindric with two laps remaining.
On the final lap, Cindric led into turn three, but Hemric slightly nudged the No. 22 driver and moved to the inside to earn the victory by a mere 0.03 seconds.
The victory also secured Hemric the 2021 NASCAR Xfinity Series driver’s championship.
This was Hemric’s first career NASCAR Xfinity Series victory and first career championship.
He is the 31st different driver to win a NASCAR Xfinity Series championship.
This is Joe Gibbs Racing’s third NASCAR Xfinity Series driver’s championship (Kyle Busch 2009 and Daniel Suarez 2016).
In the seven-race Xfinity Series playoffs, Hemric posted one win and six top-five finishes.
Daniel Hemric, Driver of the No. 18 Poppy Bank Toyota Supra
“Unbelievable. These guys right here have asked me all year how bad do you want it? We gave away one here in the spring. I felt like we had to give one up last week to get here. We were not going to be denied. Thank you to Dave Rogers (crew chief), Bill and Cindy Gallaher, everyone at Poppy Bank and Will Gallaher. They took a chance on me in 2015 in some form or fashion. They stuck with me through times they probably shouldn’t have to be honest with you. I’ve been waiting a long damn time to do that. Thank you to Joe Gibbs, everyone at TRD, Toyota, RVshare, Bell Helmets, Sparco everyone here that makes this program what it is. People doubted me, but I would do it all over again for a night like this.”