DANIEL HEMRIC, met with media to discuss the recent news of his release from Richard Childress Racing for 2020, where he sees his next step in his career, how his motivation for the rest of the season has intensified, and more. Full Transcript:
WHEN YOU HEARD THE NEWS, WHAT WAS THE REASON THEY GAVE YOU FOR THE DECISION ON NOT RETURNING NEXT YEAR?
"I think there are a number of things that play into a decision like that. Ultimately, I felt like they needed to do something different and because of that, all of the rest of the details you really have to get RC (Richard Childress) or anybody else up here to answer that question. That’s the decision they made, and we are all going to live with it and move on."
WERE YOU SHOCKED OR DID YOU SEE IT COMING? DID YOU THINK THIS WOULD BE THE THING THAT WOULD BE ANNOUNCED OR WERE YOU SURPRISED BY IT?
"Obviously, RCR was as professional as they could be about getting me enough time to understand and process what was going on. I wouldn’t necessarily say I was shocked, but on the other side of it, I was hoping we could continue to build on what we have done over the past six months. Really with this package and what not, we know as a whole we weren’t where we wanted to be. But we also know as a whole at RCR, we’ve made huge strides. That part of it was a little disappointed that we won’t be able to continue that deal and be a part of that process, but things happen, life happens, the sun comes up the next day and you try again. That’s where I’m at this weekend."
WHAT IS YOUR NEXT STEP FOR YOUR CAREER? DO YOU HAVE ANY PLANS ON THE TABLE?
"Yeah, I’ve actually been really blown away by all of the support. It’s very humbling to have not only people inside of the industry, but your peers as far as guys you race with on the race track and some of the stars of the sport reach out with their gratitude and their praise for what they feel like you are doing on and off the race track. Those are the guys that really see you in the heat of the moment and to have everyone on that side support me like they have I think has led to a lot of phone calls and a lot of conversations with a lot of race teams over the last week. Because of that, I’m thankful. It’s kind of out of sight out of mind and the good thing is that I’m standing in the minds of the folks that matter in this sport, and hopefully that allows me to have a long successful career. That’s what I’m here to do, I’m not here to just get by and say ‘Hey, I was able to do this’. I’m here to do it and do it at the highest level possible. I think getting that praise and being humbled by that is going to be what keeps me in it for the long haul."
DO YOU FEEL LIKE THE OPPORTUNITY FOR YOU RACING NEXT YEAR IS HIGH? DO YOU FEEL LIKE THAT HAS TO BE IN CUP, OR DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU CAN GO BACK TO XFINITY?
"I just want to race. I said to one of my social posts on the way here that the best thing for the soul is to get back into a race car. Nobody has asked this question yet, but yes, my Caterpillar Camaro ZL1 is really good here this weekend. That’s been good. To answer the question, I’m just thankful that I’ve had opportunities already come up and people reach out to contact me about driving their race cars. It makes you know that you are desired. That’s from Trucks, to Xfinity, to Cup. I don’t care what it is, I’m going to do it and do it at a high level, and put myself in a position to win races. People always talk about not winning races, hasn’t won a NASCAR race. On the flip side of that, I’ve said time and time again, you can go back to any interview I’ve ever done, I feel like I’ve always been a part of a build process. I’ve always been coming into race teams that need the work and as a driver, I’ve always had to work on myself as well. I kind of thrive under that. I don’t mind being a part of the build process. The success RCR has had as a Xfinity team this year I feel like started way back in 2017 between myself, Austin (Dillon), Ty (Dillon), and everybody running those cars as much as we were to get that program to where it’s at today. I feel like we were on that same path on the Cup side, we just haven’t seen it come to full vision yet. We’re rolling on and moving forward. I just know that whatever the opportunity is, I’ll jump in it and hopefully I can continue to build whatever program I end up with and hopefully be a part of it down the road."
WHAT MORE COULD YOU HAVE DONE TO KEEP YOUR RIDE?
"I feel every night I laid my head down, I knew I did everything I could do. I’ve always said that if you do that, that’s all you can do in life. No matter what it is, driving a race car, being a father, husband, parent, whatever it is. If you lay your head down and you know you gave it everything you have, then that’s what allows you to sleep at night. Have I lost the ability to sleep over the last week? Of course, you’re scrambling. You’re the guy people lean on; not only for your wife, but the people you employee and what not. That’s one thing, but from the success side of it, I haven’t lost a wink of sleep. I know I’ve done everything I’ve done, and moving forward, that’s what I’ll continue to do."
HAD YOU STARTED TALKING TO OTHER TEAMS BEFORE THIS WEEK OR ONCE YOU GOT NOTIFIED BY CHILDRESS, WERE YOU STARTING FROM SORT OF A BLANK SHEET OF PAPER?
"I started from a blank sheet of paper. My full commitment, heart and desire to be a part of this race team has been there from day one. I never wanted to do anything that was going to portray that path of something else. So, I was all in until I got sat down on Monday and given the news. After that, it’s been full steam ahead with myself and all of our partners that are helping us kind of put the next step in place. Like I talked about earlier, having people support you throughout this has been incredibly humbling; how much outreach I’ve had from people in the industry willing to put phone calls in for you and help you in this particular situation. I did not talk to anybody else, but it’s good to see that now that I have, there has been a lot of interest and that’s all I can ask for."
I MEAN THIS IN ALL SINCERITY, YOU ARE ONE OF THE MOST GENUINELY NICE PEOPLE IN THE GARAGE. BUT THIS ISN’T A POPULARITY CONTEST AND AT SOME POINT YOU HAVE TO SHOW RESULTS AND YOU HAVE TO WIN. HOW DO YOU DO THAT? CLEARLY YOUR NUMBERS ARE NO DIFFERENT THAN THE DILLONS’ AND YOU ARE IN THE SAME EQUIPIMENT.
"It’s part of the process. Everybody in here knows what I’ve been driving over the last four to five years, from being involved in NASCAR period. You’ll never one time find a program where I’ve jumped in and they’ve won five or six races the year before. Because of that, that’s why I say that I take pride in building the program up. I think when you start comparing numbers, you’re exactly right. I don’t think there is much more I could have done on this side to change the outcome, but with that being said, maybe it is time to rebuild the stock. Maybe go back Trucking racing or Xfinity racing, or whatever the next opportunity is, to build that stock and show I can win. I’ve won in every single level that I ever ran full-time in on my way up the ladder. Everybody knows I’m not cocky and I’m not going to sit here and brag about that. In the grand scheme of things, I know if I’m in winning stuff, I’m going to win races and I don’t care what level it’s at. That’s what gives me the desire to keep going."
"They’ve been well-informed of what’s going on. I’m not sure what the talks RCR had with them or not, but all I’ve been told is that they couldn’t have asked for more out of me and when I got that phone call from them, I knew I did all I could do."
YOU WERE THIRD-FASTEST IN HAPPY HOUR PRACTICE TODAY. HOW ENCOURAGING AND HELPFUL IS THAT IN THE HEALING PROCESS BEING BACK AT RICHMOND?
"There’s no better way to go out and change how you feel than perform, right? I feel like the texts and conversations I’ve had with my team guys, especially with the No. 8 group, in the days following the announcement, I promise you they were fired up as more or even more than me. Because of that, I knew we would unload here, have speed and have drivability. All the things I’ve been talking about we’ve been trying to build up the last six months, we are coming back here for the second time and all of us know it’s no different than anyone else. You are fighting every single week for your job, it just so happens everybody knows I’m out of mine. So, it makes it that everybody just wants to go out and be successful. Knowing that we’ve made progress, I’m still just as satisfied knowing how far our cars have come from the first race here to now. That does make that process a lot easier to go through as we’re going through it."
YOU’VE TALKED ABOUT PARTNERS AND SUPPORTERS. OBVIOUSLY, IN A LOT OF CASES, THE WAY THE SPORT AND BUSINESS IS, IT CAN BE AS MUCH ABOUT WHAT YOU CAN BRING TO A TEAM FINANCIALLY. IT’S KIND OF LATE IN THE GAME FOR NEXT YEAR, SO HOW DO YOU START TO PUT TOGETHER THINGS LIKE THAT AND HOW CAN YOU PUT TOGETHER SOMETHING THAT WOULD GIVE YOU AS GOOD OF AN OPPORTUNITY OR POTENTIALLY BETTER?
"Obviously, there is a lot involved in that as you talked about. Say you have a million dollars in your pocket, if you have the voice and passion of past champions and Hall of Famers in our sport, I promise you that their words as just as impactful as that dollar amount is. If they believe in you, that kind of rings at the highest level and because of that, I feel like it can put in you a situation where you don’t have to have all of that financial backing. You don’t have to have all of that other stuff that comes with trying to get a ride these days. I think a lot of people on my end, personally, you have to keep doing what you’re doing. But it is late in the game and things have to start materializing pretty quick in order for me to land in a seat that I am hoping to get by next year in any form. I feel like having those guys’ praise kind of increases that dollar amount value, not only from what I’m bringing, but what their value of me is. I think that rings with a lot of other sponsors and partners that are involved with other race teams and that’s all I can ask for. I’ll keep doing what I’m doing and hopefully that will keep that praise up so when the time comes, they’ve still got my back."
"There’s nothing like your peers knowing what you’re doing. These car owners up and down the garage in all three series, like I said, they know the situation I’ve been in over the last three, four or five years. They know the success of where those companies were when I started driving for them versus where they got to. Because of that, I think they see the value in putting someone like myself in their race car and where I can take their race team. That, to me, equals dollars. That equals positions on the race track, that equals position in the points standings, and all that equals funding. No matter how you want to look at it, it’s just a matter of someone giving you a shot and taking advantage of it."
YOU’RE FACING A SIMILAR SITUATION AS MATT DIBENDETTO DID A COUPLE OF WEEKS AGO. DO YOU WISH THIS WOULD HAVE HAPPENED EARLIER IN THE YEAR SO YOU COULD BE MORE PREPARED FOR 2020? SECONDILY, WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE RIDES THAT ARE OUT THERE ACROSS ALL THREE SERIES, IS THERE ONE IN PARTICULAR THAT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR NEXT YEAR IF THE OPPORTUNITY ARISES?
"I wish it wouldn’t have happened at all, that would have been the ideal situation. But no, there isn’t one in particular ride that I want to be in. I just want to make my next move a big one. I want to make sure the lack of winning races, I want to put myself in a situation where I can do that. I want to be in a situation where my stock can be rebuilt to what I know it’s capable of and the people involved with me know I’m capable of. Where that lands, that’s what I look to do with the program and that’s what I look to do for myself. Like I said, just driving race cars, I don’t care where it’s going to end up. I just want to make sure I end up in a good situation that can ultimately turn into a long-term deal down the road to be successful and desirable in the sport. You want to make sure you eliminate any possibility of something like this happening again. The best way to do that is to put yourself in a position where people can know you can win races. I’m looking forward to whatever is next. I’ve been down and out many of times. Everybody knows my situation, where I’ve come from, the things I’ve overcome to get to here. It’s not different. My back has been put against the wall and now that you’ve made it to the top level of the sport, I don’t care where I end up at. I’m not done."
DID RCR TELL YOU WHO WAS REPLACING YOU NEXT YEAR IN YOUR CAR?
"No, they did not."
WAS GOING BACK TO THE XFINITY SERIES WITH RCR AN OPTION?
"That hasn’t even been talked about, to be honest with you. I’m sure everything is on the table at this point."
"Of course. But they also know that where the Xfinity Series is. I’ve been in it, I’ve been in the series. I had this conversation with a guy that has won a substantial amount of Xfinity races this year and, he himself, told me that the competition and who he’s racing this year is not what it is in years past. No matter how you want to look at that. Yes, the numbers look all flashy, but I can promise you that you get to this level, it’s a different deal."
— Team Chevy —