BRISTOL, Tenn. — Daniel Hemric didn’t just earn his first top-5 of the season when he finished fifth Saturday at Bristol Motor Speedway, the seventh race of the season.
The Richard Childress Racing rookie also took home the extra $100,000 awarded as part of the Dash 4 Cash program, the best finisher among the four drivers who are eligible by finishing as the top two Xfinity points driver in either of the first two stages.
He also earned something more valuable than some cash for his team. He gained a little confidence by having the No. 21 car up front and making gains rather than finishing worse than he started. Hemric won the second stage of the race to be eligible for the bonus.
“It’s huge confidence [gained] any time you can [win a stage], let alone run among a group of guys like this,” Hemric said “This series is so stacked full of talent from top to bottom.”
Hemric won the second stage thanks to a strategy move where he stayed out instead of pitting on a caution late in the stage. He earned the most points of any Xfinity regular in the race Saturday and sits fifth in the standings.
“We haven’t done a great job of managing our weekends and maximizing our points throughout the year,” Hemric said. “It was good to be able to do that.
“Wouldn’t you know that when you do that stuff, it all kinds of works itself out?”
Hemric, who had not led a lap all year, led the final eight laps in winning the stage and found himself second late in the race before dropping to fifth.
It’s not that Hemric hasn’t shown speed — he had started in the top 10 in five of the first six races entering Bristol. It was just a matter of sustaining his position in races. For the first time this year, Hemric at Bristol finished a race in a position better than where he started as he rolled off the grid in eighth.
“It’s the first time we found ourselves in a legitimate shot to lead laps, be in position and have a shot at the end of one of these races. … The last adjustment by [crew chief] Danny Stockman really gave us a shot at the end of the race,” Hemric said.
Camping World Truck Series: Harrison Burton gets confidence boost as well
Harrison Burton, running a six-race truck schedule for Kyle Busch Motorsports, earned a confidence boost Saturday at Bristol by winning the K&N East race.
The 16-year-old son of former NASCAR star and current NBC commentator Jeff Burton won for the first time in 17 career starts in the series.
“It increases my confidence — I know I can get it done in a big, heavy stock car,” Harrison Burton said. “I was pretty confident in the super late model divisions, which are light and high horsepower and really fast.
“I feel like I struggled a little bit last year with the transition from that to a K&N car. I’m really confident now in these bigger, heavier cars. I feel like I can go out and run with the best of them.”
Burton’s next truck race — he can only do tracks 1.25 miles and shorter because he is under 18 — will be in June at Dover.