Daniel Hemric knows the legacy of Richard Childress Racing and the No. 8.
Growing up in Kannapolis, North Carolina, the name “Earnhardt” was a commonality in the local community. As a young racing fan, Hemric called himself a fan of the “Intimidator” and his team, Richard Childress Racing.
To drive the same number that Dale Earnhardt Jr. made famous for a team that he grew up watching is indeed special for the newly minted Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver.
But he also wants to build his own legacy in the car and with Richard Childress Racing.
“… To see the pride in the employees’ eyes and how that catapulted RCR to what it is today, 50 years later, for me that is what I‘m most looking forward to is the opportunity to add to that legacy and to do it in a number that many unbelievable drivers that came before me,” Hemric said during RCR’s 50th anniversary celebration announcement on Dec. 19 at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. “To be able to have that number… but somewhere along the way to make it my own as well. I want to make sure the folks at RCR understand not only where I’ve come from, but I want the fans to understand where I‘ve come from and why that number means what it means to myself and the entire sport.
“When it’s all said and done, I want to make sure we add to that legacy.”
Hemric’s beginnings with a RCR Cup ride begin the same year the team celebrates its 50th anniversary in NASCAR. The 27-year-old driver has already driven for the team’s Xfinity Series program for two years, but he feels like he’s “been a part of this family for way longer than that.”
“Austin (Dillon) and Ty (Dillon) and I grew up at the race tracks when we were 14, 15, 16 years old together,” Hemric said of his fellow drivers and team owner Richard Childress‘ grandsons. ”So, I’ve been around this family and this atmosphere for a long time and to be able to run my first full season in the Cup Series — (and) do it on RCR’s 50th year — it’s crazy to think how far this place has come since 1969.
“And to know I get to be a part of a huge milestone of RCR’s history, it‘s a lot to take in but unbelievable to know I get to run my first Daytona 500 with a group and organization I consider family.”
The milestone of stepping into Richard Childress Racing’s No. 8, starting with the season-opening Daytona 500, is the first line of Hemric’s legacy. But what will the rest of it look like? Hemric doesn’t know — no one knows yet. Perhaps that’s the exciting part about a new venture; he has an opportunity to mold it however he wishes.
And, maybe, inspire a kid from a small town with big dreams — just like himself — along the way.
“I think that’s all to be seen and to be written, really,” he said. “I think my path and my journey to get here, to have the opportunity to drive the 8 car in the Cup Series is its own story. Hopefully, that in itself will be enough to motivate some kid throughout the country that wants a shot and doesn’t know how to do it. Through hard work and dedication and committing yourself to something. … I think what I can do with RCR at the Cup level is to be seen and I want to know as time goes, I can make it my own.
“And I don’t want to take away the history of what the 8 means to the sport but also want to make sure when it’s all said and done, there’s a good amount there under my name as well.”