Saturday night was not the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut Daniel Hemric imagined as he quickly fell off the lead lap and floundered outside the top 30 at Richmond Raceway.
“Just learned you can’t be that far off when you start the race,” Hemric said after a 32nd-place finish.
“It was tough in practice to get enough race runs in and know exactly what we had so we would be able to qualify within our goals, and just was so tight that first run I couldn’t do anything but try and stay out of the way until we could work on it.”
Under the guidance of crew chief Brandon Thomas, the No. 8 Chevrolet was brought to life, at least enough for Hemric to feel confident he could run speeds comparable to the top 20. But he said it would then give up about 40 laps into a run.
“But no more than anybody else. So, I’m proud of how we continued to get better all day,” said Hemric. “It’s fun running 400 laps or 398, whatever I ended up running.
“Just proud of the effort. Thanks to Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff and these guys for at least giving me the opportunity. Was hoping to give them a better showing but we’ll learn from it and roll on.”
Going into the race, Hemric had practiced and qualified on pace with his Richard Childress Racing teammates, officially lining up on the grid 22nd.
Asked if there was anything else that put him behind other than fighting the car early on, Hemric said no.
“It was just that first run,” Hemric said. “We lost almost three laps in the first [100 lap] run, and that killed the night because it constantly put you behind. Early in the race you can’t [take the] wave around because of the tire deficit, and it wouldn’t have mattered anyway because of how long it went green.
“Just a lot of things, a lot of variables and we took off too far away from where we needed to be balance-wise to start the race. Like I said, once we adjusted it made it fun to be able to race with guys and restart and pass cars and race the good guys. That’s where I’m going to hang my hat as we leave here.”
Hemric is scheduled to make his second Cup start in the fall at the Charlotte road course.