Full circle: Daniel Hemric promoted to RCR’s No. 31 Cup team

CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 28: Daniel Hemric, driver of the #21 South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet, drives during practice for the NASCAR XFINITY Series Drive for the Cure 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on September 28, 2018 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

Thirty-four years ago, team owner Richard Childress installed a driver from Kannapolis, N.C.—Dale Earnhardt—as the full-time occupant of the No. 3 Chevrolet.

Together, Earnhardt and Childress won six Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series titles together and established one of motorsports’ most iconic brands.

On Friday at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Childress announced that Kannapolis native Daniel Hemric will take over the driving duties in the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet. Hemric succeeds Ryan Newman, who will part with the organization at the end of the year and drive for Roush Fenway Racing in 2019.

A contender for the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship this year in the No. 21 RCR Chevrolet, Hemric has yet to win in the series, but that hasn’t muted the confidence of his boss. Hemric is doing double duty at the Charlotte Road Course this weekend, including a second Cup start in the No. 8 RCR car.

“He will get his wins,” Childress said. “And I think it could happen here Sunday. His No. 8 car is really fast. He’s a great road racer. Don’t be surprised if we’re not sitting here Sunday afternoon. Write that down. We’re going to be trying.”

Childress sees similarities between the blue-collar approach to racing that Hemric shares with the late Earnhardt.

“Dale Earnhardt’s career… he had to work his way up,” Childress said. “I remember seeing him on dirt, seeing him in the Late Models and the things that he did. To see Daniel and all the racing he did over here at Charlotte and all the different tracks that he’s run, the Late Models, I think he’s proved that he’s well capable of being here—no different than Dale Earnhardt did in his day.”

Currently second in the NASCAR Xfinity standings to Christopher Bell, Hemric seemed overwhelmed by the opportunity. As a young, aspiring racer, Hemric lived less than five miles from Dale Earnhardt Inc.

“It’s very special to be able to see what the pinnacle of the sport was,” Hemric said. “And to be that close to my house, and to be able just to see his face. He came from the same home town and grew an empire to what it was.

“And to have that stuff all come full circle here at Richard Childress Racing and have the guy he called his boss be my leader moving forward with the company I dreamed of racing for my entire life—it’s unbelievable how it’s come full circle, and I’m sitting here today.”