BIRCH RUN, Mich. (June 12) – Daniel Hemric certainly has a flair for the dramatic.
The 21-year-old from Mooresville, N.C., has scored some major victories in his career, including a $250,000 payday for the Legends Million race at Charlotte in 2010. And when he celebrates those victories, he leaps off his car with a back-flip, just like NASCAR star Carl Edwards.
So you might think he’d have taken the $250,000 check and bought something extravagant. Well, there are some things the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour driver doesn’t do with flair. That money went straight to the bank.
“Everybody knows me to be pretty tight,” Hemric said. “They say my wallet squeaks every time I take it out. I’m trying to hang on to it as long as I can, but the way things are now, it’s drying up a little bit.”
When he wins, though, as he’s done twice this season on the JEGS/CRA tour, he performs that trademark back-flip in victory lane. Hemric hopes to do another one this weekend in the rescheduled Auto Value Parts Stores & Certified Service Centers 100 presented by JEGS at Dixie Motor Speedway, the fifth race on the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour. The race was originally slated to run June 1 but was pushed back two weeks by inclement weather.
The back-flip is a move Hemric began practicing back in 2004, when he saw Edwards do it after winning a Truck Series race at Daytona. Hemric was just 13 years old at the time and it made an impression.
“When Carl won that truck race in Daytona and I saw him get out and do a back-flip off his truck, I was like, ‘That’s a pretty neat deal.'” Hemric said. “I’d never heard of him before that so it made me take notice. A couple buddies of mine in the neighborhood taught me how to do it. My first Bandolero win after that was the first time I was able attempt it, and I’ve been doing it ever since.”
It turns out Hemric has been executing lots of those back-flips. In one of his first seasons racing, Hemric won 11 go-kart races and the track championship at Concord Speedway in North Carolina. Later, Hemric moved to the Legends cars and quickly became, well, a legend himself. He won the Legends Car national championship in 2009, going to victory lane nearly 60 times.
Then, in 2010, he cemented his place in the sport by winning the Legends Million. With a $1 million purse put up by Charlotte Motor Speedway, the race attracted national attention. In the end, it was Hemric holding the $250,000 first-place check.
“It was definitely nothing short of a big night for me and the team I was with, Dan Snyder Racing,” Hemric said. “It was a pretty cool. It was one of the biggest victories in my career and it put us on the map, I guess you’d say.”
That victory led to a ride with Jeff Fultz’s Late Model team, and ultimately to his current team, Scott Neal Racing.
“It means a lot to me, not having a full-time ride until this year in Late Models,” Hemric said. “Scott Neal was coming off his CRA Super Series championship and we were able to put a deal together. We looked at the press and the publicity the JEGS Series gets, and that’s what persuaded us to run the full series. It’s an honor to be a part of it.
“Scott Neal’s been awesome as a crew chief. It’s been a great ride so far.”
Driving Neal’s No. 54 Chevrolet, Hemric won the season-opening JEGS/CRA race at Plymouth Speedway, and then beat Eddie Hoffman by about nine inches to win at Illiana Speedway.
“I don’t think anybody could have dreamed this,” Hemric said. “It’s a very new team. Scott and I only worked together for one or two races before the start of the JEGS tour. We’ve got two wins and a third-place finish pretty early in the season.”
Hemric is second in the JEGS/CRA points standings because a crash in Columbus last weekend sidelined him early in the race.
The pits open at noon Eastern time Friday, with the JEGS/CRA drivers meeting at 2:15 p.m. Practice is slated for 3:30 p.m., with qualifying at 6:30 p.m. The race program begins at 7:30 and includes Dixie’s Modifieds, Factory Stocks and Bombers classes.
Twenty-four cars are entered for the race, including points leader Brett Downey and Howie Lettow Memorial Rookie of the Year leader Anderson Bowen. Also entered are the nine of the rest of the top 10 in the points standings: Hoffman, Josh Nelms, Chad Finley, Jerrod Foley, Thomas Woodin, Chris Koslek and Cody Coughlin.
Finley, the winner at Columbus, leads a group of 12 drivers from Michigan entered. Among the other Michigan drivers are series regulars Erik Jones, Brandon Hermiller, Curt Genow, Dan Leeck, Koslek, Joe Johnson, Pat Zorn, Woodin, Josh Hobson, Jay Sommers and Mike Staszak.
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