Kannapolis resident turns hobby into championship-winning career

07/01/2014 12:00 AM

06/26/2014 1:56 PM

By age 10, Daniel Hemric thought his racing days were over because his family could no longer financially support his involvement in the sport. Then numerous people who recognized the Kannapolis resident’s talent stepped in and helped him turn his family’s hobby into a career that’s produced several championships.

“Anything that you can do and thoroughly enjoy, it makes life a lot easier,” said Hemric.

Now 23, Hemric competes in various series and celebrates in victory lane on a regular basis.

“I’m a firm believer … as many different things as you can drive, the better,” said Hemric, who estimates when the season ends, he’ll have competed in roughly 50 races. “You can take some things from one and apply to another form of racing. I feel that’s the reason I’ve had a lot of success.”

This year, Hemric is competing in selected PASS North and PASS South super late model races, as well as defending his 2013 Southern Super Series championship. After seven of this year’s 16 scheduled Southern Super races, he was fourth in the standings.

He had corralled a victory in the Champion Racing Association’s prestigious Stoops Freightliner Redbud 300 at Anderson (Ind.) Speedway in a car fielded by Carswell Motorsports of Woodstock, Ga. Also on the victory board were three PASS South races and three Charlotte Motor Speedway Summer Shootout Legends Pro events.

“By December, we should have competed in just about every super late model series that is in the country,” said Hemric, who claimed the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour championship in 2012. “We’re going to just big paying shows; shows that you feel like if you can win, it will put your name on the map.”

Hemric made his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut last year at Virginia’s Martinsville in a Chevrolet fielded by Sharp Gallaher Racing; he then competed at Phoenix a few weeks later. His finishes were 32nd and 13th, respectively. He would like to compete in a couple of truck races later this year, but if not, he’ll focus on putting a deal together for that series for 2015.

Racing began for Hemric at age 5 in go-karts at Concord Motorsport Park. Five years later, he moved up to Bandoleros and competed in that division until he was 15. Next he focused on Legend cars, where he won the 2009 national championship in addition to a CMS Summer Shootout Series title.

Hemric points to his victory in CMS’ 2010 Legends Million event as the boost his career needed.

“At the time, I was just winning races on the local level in Legend cars. With that race being highlighted on SPEED TV and in front of hundreds of thousands of fans worldwide, that was an opportunity to put myself on the map,” said Hemric, who collected $250,000 for the victory. “Now, whenever I win a late model race, one of the first things they refer to is that … race.”

Around age 18, Hemric ventured into late model and modifieds. He still competes in late model races, but his occasional modified appearances ended after the 2012 season. Even though Hemric never scored a modified victory, he produced three top-five and six top-10 finishes, with 2012 being his best season in the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour. That year, he produced one top-five and three top-10 finishes.

Even though Hemric is focused on his late model racing and putting together a truck deal for 2015, he still enjoys Legend racing.

“I like to see all of the kids that are coming up through the ranks and getting a taste of how the newer generations are going about things,” said Hemric, who bases his Legend team in Mooresville. “As far as the skill side of it, I feel like every time I run a Legend car it makes me better week-in and week-out in my late model stuff.”

Hemric would like to eventually compete in one of NASCAR’s top three series – Sprint Cup, Nationwide or Camping World Truck – but he emphasizes he won’t take the next step unless he can “do it right.”

“Wherever I end up, I want to be able to win races on a regular basis,” Hemric said. “I know that’s a lot to ask for, but if I can’t take the step into the top three series and win races, then I’m content running late model races and contending for wins – doing it right.”

Global Rallycross returns in July

Red Bull Global Rallycross returns to The Dirt Track at Charlotte July 25-26. Expected to compete in the Supercars division are defending Charlotte champion and recent X Games contender Scott Speed, as well as Brian Deegan, Ken Block, Steve Arpin, Tanner Foust and Bucky Lasek.

Headlining the GRC Lites division are 2014 X Games gold medalist Mitchell DeJong, Mooresville’s Austin Cindric and Kevin Eriksson.

Practice and qualifying is scheduled for July 25, with gates opening at 4 p.m. On-track activities continue on July 26 at 11 a.m. with gates opening at 10 a.m. Each ticket is a paddock pass that allows access to where the teams and drivers are working on their cars. There will be an autograph session on Friday.

Furr maintains lead

Harrisburg’s Steve Furr continues to lead two of the three classes in which he’s competing for a NHRA championship. Furr has a 10-point advantage over Jeff Lopez in the Super Gas national standings and holds an 87-point advantage over Cameron Manuel in the Division 2 Super Gas class.

He has dropped to second in the Division 2 Top Dragster standings, 10 points behind Jeff Strickland.

Mt. Ulla’s Sandy Wilkins remains second to Jeffrey Barker in the NHRA’s Division 2 Top Sportsman class, 44 points behind.

Herman sits atop East Lincoln standings

Concord’s Jennings Herman leads the Super Stock Fours standings at East Lincoln Speedway. Junior Pittman of Iron Station was second after the June 21 event; Mooresville’s Lee Oiler was third.

Venturini driver sets record

Concord-based Venturini Motorsports driver J.J. Haley became the youngest driver in ARCA series history to earn a pole during preparations for the June 21 Akona 250 at Elko (Minn.) Speedway.

Haley, who was 15 years and 53 days old when he accomplished the feat, set a track record of 94.525 mph on the three-eighths-mile speedway. He finished third in the event. Concord’s Ken Schrader placed fifth in the race.

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