MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
TOYOTA OWNERS 400
TEAM CHEVY PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
APRIL 20, 2018
DANIEL HEMRIC, NO. 8 SMOKEY MOUNTAIN HERBAL SNUFF CAMARO ZL1 met with media and discussed doing double duty his weekend for the first time with his Cup debut at Richmond Raceway coupled with his regular participation in the Xfinity Series, his challenges and expectations, support from his fans and family, and more. Full Transcript:
THIS IS A PRETTY BIG WEEKEND FOR YOU HERE AT RICHMOND WITH THE DASH 4 CASH BONUS AND YOU’RE FIRST CUP START. CAN YOU TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR APPROACH TO THESE RACES?
‘There is definitely a lot going on, to say the least. I have a newfound respect for those guys who do double duty every week. It’s been a lot to take in. It’s been a good time and a great problem to have trying to figure out how to get from one place to the next in the manner that you need to. It’s been fun. I think our No. 21 South Point Hotel Casino Chevrolet has been good since we got here. We’ve been trying to fine-tune on it to figure out what we’ve got to do to try to make sure we have a shot at the end of tonight’s race to run for the Dash 4 Cash and hopefully be able to help not only ourselves, but a local non-profit organization that will receive $10,000 from Comcast and Xfinity and help those families and everybody that’s going to benefit from that and be able to reach internet essentials and stuff they’ve got to have. That’s cool. And, on the other side of it, the Cup car. I just got out of it for the first time. It’s been a lot of fun to be able to feel the differences. You can simulate and do all the stuff you want to do to prepare for a moment like this, but there’s nothing like doing it in real time. So, I’m having a lot of fun. Those guys have done a great job with our No. 8 Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff Chevrolet to allow us to unload and make me feel comfortable and let me go through practice and make changes and do the stuff you need to do in feeling it all out for the first time. I’m just trying more than anything else to just enjoy the weekend.”
NOW THAT YOUR CUP DEBUT IS REALLY HERE, DO YOU ANTICIPATE HAVING ANY EXTRA NERVES OR BATTLING ANYTHING DIFFERENT WHEN YOU GET TO RACE TIME SATURDAY EVENING?
“Heck, I’m 27 years old, right? So, it’s 22 years in the making to try to figure out how to get to this stage. I don’t know exactly how I feel. I thought I’d be a little more nervous than what I’ve felt. But, I think between getting in the Xfinity car and having time on the race track, and then just running straight over and getting in the Cup car has made the transition as easy as possible. And by lap 4 or 5 on the race track, it was like okay, I need more front tire. I need more rear grip. I need all the basic stuff you try to ask out of a race car as a driver. Think that’s helped to calm the nerves and staying busy has kept all that stuff kind of in-check as well. Like I said earlier. It’s been a lot going on but it’s been fun.”
WHO FROM YOUR FAMILY AND SUPPORT GROUP IS HERE IN RICHMOND TO BE A PART OF THIS?
“Obviously you remember them, Jake and DeAnna Caswell, a team that I drove Super Late Models for out of the Georgia area for years and years. I was very pumped-up to hear they were able to make it here. I’ve got my dad and my grandparents, my mother, my stepdad; I’ve got probably 60 to 70 family and friends in the grandstands coming tomorrow just to be part of the debut deal. So, it’s just really special. I have at some point in the last 10 days, I’ve talked to just about every car owner I’ve had throughout the ranks that all, somewhere along the way, led to me having a shot. So, it’s cool to have the majority of those people here.”
GOING BACK TO THE LEGENDS MILLION, DID THAT ALMOST NOT HAPPEN? DID YOU HAVE A CAR ISSUE ON THE WAY THERE OR SOMETHING? IS THAT TRUE?
“I about ran out of gas to get there. Yeah, I remember Don Hawk when we won the Legends that night he asked me he said, what are you going to do? I said well, I’ve got holes in my tennis shoes and I’m going to take the gas out of the race car put it in my Honda to get home because that $250,000 check didn’t go through for a couple of weeks. Little stuff like that makes you appreciate this weekend.”
HOW CLOSE WERE YOU TO NOT GETTING THERE AND HOW DIFFERENT WOULD YOUR CAREER BE NOW?
“Yeah, I think at the time, with that being broadcast live on national television and obviously Bruton Smith involved and Marcus Smith and everyone at SMI, and they did that as big as possible, right? But when you do that, obviously the word of mouth travels and it made that event even that much bigger. So obviously to go on and to win that race just put me in a different spotlight. You’re always and forever will be known as that guy who won that one-time race. It definitely pushed me in the direction I needed to go, but even after that, I didn’t know what that path was. It was just a matter of hey, if opportunity comes from this, I’m going to have to take whatever is available and that’s kind of the way it went. That led me towards driving for Jeff Fultz and down the road for all the different people that are here this weekend. That race definitely didn’t hurt any of that stuff. But a lot of other stuff had to fall into place and that’s kind of been the story of my entire upbringing is not knowing the path or having a path set in place, it’s just taking whatever opportunity and making the most of it and that race led to a lot of opportunities.”
LAST WEEKEND WAS KIND OF A ROLLER COASTER OF EMOTIONS FOR YOU. AFTER THE RACE YOU FOUND OUT YOU WOULDN’T BE IN THIS AND THEN NOW YOU ARE IN THIS. WHAT WENT THROUGH YOUR HEAD?
“A lot went on in that probably 12-hour span. We went through the race. We led laps and had a really good car. We faded into the race and luckily had a short run that led us to have an opportunity to lock ourselves into the Dash 4 Cash, only to find out when we got back that hey, we’re not in it. It was disappointing. I thought it was a little interesting because of the way it was put out immediately was I believe it was a measurement violation and it wasn’t strictly a rear toe or a skew or none of that stuff. So I thought NASCAR was a little on the fence about how to word it because they weren’t exactly sure of the rule. And we carried on with business and tried to get a plan to figure out what we were going to do when we come to Richmond as a team and started with the process of maybe or maybe not appealing, and that’s when we got the call from Wayne Auton the next morning. And he said ‘hey man, first I want to apologize to you personally and secondly let you know that you’re back into the Dash 4 Cash. All your results at Bristol stand.’ He went on to explain the difference of only one side being out versus the other and it wasn’t to an extreme that puts into the L1 or L2 penalty range. It was not the phone call I expected to get at 8:30 Sunday morning. I was still on a pretty downhill slide from the way things and the results and the way it all had went down on Saturday, so it definitely turned my Sunday into a good day. And we’re thankful to be here in the Dash 4 Cash again.”
WHAT’S A REALISTIC EXPECTATION FOR YOUR SATURDAY NIGHT CUP DEBUT? HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE XFINITY CAR? DO YOU FEEL LIKE A WIN IS AROUND THE CORNER FOR RCR?
“First off, talking about tomorrow’s Cup debut, I think coming here, I wanted to first off get through practice with no issues. I was trying to be smooth and trying to be solid. And I felt like we’ve done that. Now we have qualifying ahead of us and that’s the next goal. But in the race, I think if we can get a decent qualifying position, I’d like to be able to see ourselves at the end of 400 laps being able to compete inside the top 25 or top 20. I think if we can do that as a group with only being a one-off race right here, obviously knowing we’re going to come back at it in the fall at a road course, but it’s tough to do. It’s tough to bring guys out of the shop and know what the expectations are. That’s why I say we’ve got to take it a step at a time. That’s what we’ve done do far. I think if we can run inside the top 20, we hit a homerun.”
INAUDIBLE ~ ON THE XFINITY CAR
“I think we’ve done all the right things as a team to be that much better every single week. As we’ve done that, that’s put us in a situation where we’re leading more laps, we’ve got more speed through practice and qualifying. When you do that, that’s what you have to do in order to even deserve to win races. I don’t want to win races off of fuel mileage. At this point I’ll take whatever I can get, but what we’re doing is allowing us to win when we do win, to win on speed; and that’s something I’m proud of to see the organization take that turn. And I think we’re still that much off, but we’re close enough now to kind of I guess pounce on somebody else’s mistakes and we’ve done a good job of putting ourselves in that position to take that chance if we’re put in that situation.”
DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU’RE BUCKING THE TREND OF BEING A ROOKIE AT AGE 27?
“I think so; a little bit. I saw where Jeff Burton told Ryan Preece last week that he won his first Cup race at 30 years old, so that gave me a little bit more confidence that I was on the right path. I never had a path or an age set for whenever I wanted to get there. I’ve just been fortunate to be able to continue that uphill climb and I know the trend is 17 or 18 years old; you’ve got to be in the top 3 series and doing it full time. But I’m just doing it the way it’s provided to me and just trying to make the most of it.”
IN A SPORT WHERE WE’RE SEEING A LOT MORE BUY-RIDES, YOU’VE JUST BEEN ABLE TO HOLD YOUR OWN BY COMING IN AND PERFORMING. IS THERE STILL A PATH LIKE THAT FOR PEOPLE WHO POTENTIALLY WOULD LIKE TO GET IN THROUGH LATE MODELS OR DIRT OR WHATEVER?
“Yes. It’s not going to be easy. But, the path, I think I’ve proven that it can still happen. If you would have asked me if I’d be in this spot even two or three years ago, even when I was running Trucks, I would have said there ain’t no way. I’m going to continue to get older and I’m not sure how to put myself in any other better position than just making the most of that opportunity. So, I think that’s no different than the mindset I had through short track racing, through Late Models, and all that and making the most of that. At the end of the day, nobody knows your story better than you know it. So, I know what I’ve put in. I know I’ve put the effort in and I always said if it didn’t work out, it wasn’t going to be because of me or because of lack of effort; that I was going to do my part. If it worked out, great. If it didn’t, it wasn’t meant to be. But fortunately, here we are.”
YOU’VE RACE WITH CUP DRIVERS. HOW DIFFERENT DO YOU THINK IT WILL BE AT RICHMOND AT NIGHT WITH THE CUP SERIES VERSUS THE XFINITY SERIES IN THE SAY THAT THEY WILL RACE ON A SATURDAY NIGHT?
“I just think that all those guys are really good. I think that’s the difference is the disparity between first and 30-whatever. An Xfinity race is a pretty big gap at time, especially depending on the race track. When you take that next step and even in practice, I’ve noticed it being around other cars on the Cup side. That is shrunk way, way down. So, every little thing and all the little details, you focus on the Xfinity side but now you’re going to be the one that could also make that little bitty tiny difference. So, you’ve got to make sure that you do your part and everybody is just good. So, I think it’s just a matter of racing them the same. I don’t think they race any different, even when they come race with us, it’s just that the field is that much tighter when you get to this level. What mistake either you or your team makes, that could cost you two or three spots on the Xfinity stide could cost you 10 or 15 on the Cup side. I think that’s going to be the biggest thing I’ve got to pay attention to and it’s probably going to catch me off-guard at some point during the race. You’ve just got to be ready to capitalize or just move past it.”
DO YOU THINK THE XFINITY DRIVERS ARE MORE AGGRESSIVE OR THAT THEIR SMOOTHER ON THE CUP SIDE, LESS AGGRESSIVE, AGGRESSIVELY SMOOTHER OR WHAT?
I think aggressively smoother is a good way to put it. Just like any race track we go to, restarts are key and all that stuff, but they also know they’re going to run 400 laps. The pace for the Cup car obviously falls way, way off compared to the Xfinity car because of the power and all the differences between the two series. My crew chief on the Cup side (Brandon Thomas) reminded me a minute ago, I was trying to find speed and was trying to figure out what I needed to make more speed. And he said let me remind you man, you’re racing these guys that are two or three hundred or four hundred starts into this deal. He’s been trying to keep me in check on that. But as a racer, you want to figure out how to be better. It’s been cool to have a lot of really good guys to lean on between my teammates, Austin (Dillon) and Ryan (Newman). They’ve been gracious enough to help me. I reach out to them for a reason because they’re the best at it.”
REGARDING THE XFINITY SERIES, WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU TO HAVE A SPONSOR LIKE XFINITY, PROMOTING YOU GUYS AND BEING HERE EVERY WEEK AT THE TRACK?
“Yeah, it’s everything. I think their involvement speaks for itself. We’re running four here back-to-back, paying $100,000 not only to us, but $10,000 to every local community to help that low income, family housing reach the internet. All that is huge. To know that they have that much support and how much they let us be ourselves but also push our names and try to do the things to help us and the sport move forward, that’s huge. To know that we can be a part of a series and then have Xfinity and Comcast and their support, it’s unbelievable to know that they’re behind us like they are. As a driver that makes you go out, it makes you want to push their product and make sure you’re proud of what they do and what they represent. I’m definitely thankful to be here and part of the Xfinity Series.”
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