CHEVROLET NCS AT DAYTONA 500 MEDIA DAY – Daniel Hemric Media Availability Quotes

DANIEL HEMRIC, NO. 31 KAULIG RACING CAMARO ZL1 – 2024 Daytona 500 Media Day Quotes

What’s it like having Josh Williams as a teammate and to see him get this opportunity?

“It’s super cool for him to get a shot and to have a group of partners behind him that even led him to have a conversation with Kaulig Racing to get a deal done. That’s what it takes. So it’s cool to see him form those partners. He’s so much fun. He just brings a different feel, which is good. He fits right in, and it’s been good to see the respect he has for the race team, for the parts and pieces. I’ve known Josh for a long time, since we were kids. He’s had to work on his own stuff and build a lot of his own racecars, so he understands and appreciates every part of the dynamic that it takes to get a car ready for the racetrack and what it takes to fix and repair those cars. I feel like half that understanding gives you a sense of respect for the guys and girls that work on them. I’m looking forward to him having a really good year.”

What’s it like coming back to this race having been away from the Cup Series for a full year from when you ran your first 500?

“It’s something that you don’t take lightly. Once you’ve experienced this entire week of Daytona 500, it’s not like anything else. And once you experience it once and don’t know if you’ll experience it again, you learn not to take it for granted. Grateful to be here with Kaulig Racing. Excited to be part of the Great American Race one more time.”

You saw it on the Xfinity side last year, but how do you feel like Kaulig has grown to be more competitive on the Cup side?

“I think it kind of starts with the kind of moves that were made at the end of last year, into the offseason. We tried to build more depth in the company. Are we there yet? Time will tell. There’s always room for improvement and to grow, but I think we’ve taken the correct measures to give ourselves that chance to grow. You look at these huge organizations that have been around for 20, 30, 40 years and the depth that they have. They can pull from different parts. I feel like in the past we haven’t had that at Kaulig Racing and we’re super young. So we’ve been slowly but surely building that talent pool. There is a long way to go, for sure. But it’s cool to see them taking steps from the management side to gain that depth, give ourselves a chance to get better.”

What’s a fair amount of time for you to get comfortable with this car and how it responds?

“I feel like we prepare throughout the year to be ready when they drop the first green flag of the year. Even the limited starts I made when the Next Gen car came out, it was so new to everybody that everybody was sort of on a blank canvas starting off. Obviously, with me being away from these cars for a year changes the dynamic for myself. I think through this process of being in this car in ’22, not in it in ’23, the rules packages and stuff have changed pretty substantially. Obviously, the guys who ran this car last year have an advantage no doubt. But I feel like the car feel is so different that it’s something that you have to jump in and drive like a racecar. Your instincts will kind of take over and that’s the way I approached it when we all ran this car for the first time back in ’22 and it’s no different to me. I feel like we’ll go find the edge of the speed and work accordingly. The biggest thing for me is understanding as we go from a short track package to mile and a half to superspeedways just understanding what’s in the car, what are the rules, what’s different. It’s more of an adjustment from that side. I’d like to think that once we get through this first swing of races, we’ll have a good idea of where we stand.”

What’s your favorite part of the Daytona experience?

“Honestly, just the stage itself. Once you have the opportunity to run the Cup level and you’re out and about away from the racetrack, there’s a certain thing that comes with being a Cup driver. Even if you go on to win the Xfinity championship, a lot of the folks that know racing, they know NASCAR, they know the Cup Series, but when you start talking about lower series, they don’t really follow that part of it. You’re a driver and they ask what do you race and they look at you. When you say Cup Series, it gets their attention. It’s no different than a kid playing Pop Warner football and playing in the NFL one day. Just having that stage, that platform. And then this particular weekend — Daytona 500 weekend — there’s nothing else like this. There’s not another race; maybe Coke 600 for me that even gives you those feelings. This stage is super special.”

When you look at the experience you gained and how your career has matured, do you think you came up to Cup a little too early the first time?

“For me, it’s timing and it’s exactly what it’s supposed to be. I went through that season of life the exact time I was supposed to, and it sure brought its challenges. But I feel like how I grew through that whole process will kind of – and it did – define me as how I can handle those situations and I’m grateful for that time. Would I have been content to race another year in Xfinity in 2019? Possibly. But there were changes in the company that year and I got the call. End of the day, you want to be needed and wanted.”

When you come up to Cup now, where do you think you’ve progressed as a driver?

“For me, so much has changed. I think more has changed on the personal side of life that kind of changes you. I had my first Cup opportunity as myself and my wife, and we were kind of living this crazy thing of a racecar driver at the Cup level. And five years later, we have two kids. Just in life in general, I have a different perspective. But back in 2019, I came with so much expectation. You get a shot at Cup for the first time and you think you’re going to be there for a long time. And to see the way things turned out six months later – out of a job, a baby on the way, it for sure changes how you view things. I think through that process I’ve become a better person, better father, racer because of my mental state where I stand right now. I come into it with not maybe the expectation I had in 2019. Just come into it with a bit of a thankful kind of grace. Just come in here with a blank canvas and something to enjoy.”

What does it mean to you to get a second chance?

“I’m really trying to grasp and make the most of it. The story is to be told. Having a shot again is something I don’t take lightly. I just look forward to living in the moment of this opportunity.”

What’s the hardest part of your daily life managing two kids?

“I think it was time allocation. Whether it’s morning, lunch or dinner, once you’re with them you’re with them. Do I have it figured out yet? By no means. But, over time, you kind of develop some habits that help you manage that. In season between the training, having a really good plan I think has helped me. Learning how to say no is important. Certain things just don’t matter. Our kids need our attention and that’s where it’s at.”

How did you work through going back to Xfinity?

“No matter what your profession, there are people who will take that as a life loss and they may never find another win. For me, not finding another win was not an option. I’m just going to keep my legs moving and know that one particular bump in the road or life lesson as I like to call it was just that. What’s next? That’s all there was to it. Just continue to figure out how to make this work. I’m still trying to figure out how to make it work. Just because you’re back here doesn’t mean it’s going to work. In my mind, it was not proving people wrong, it was proving yourself right. Everything you put your life into, I’m doing it to prove myself right. That’, I think is a big motivator.”

Where does that mindset come from?

“There’s a lot to that. You feel defeated, for sure. You still have to figure out how to pay your bills. You still have to figure out how to eat. When I lost my deal, there was one point I flipped a house with a buddy to try to make some cash. My point is you just figure it out, keep things going. As a racecar driver, the best that we’ve seen do it lost 90 percent of the time. I think there is some lesson that comes with it that doesn’t come with other businesses in general. You go to school, get your degree and it doesn’t guarantee you anything, but you do that because you see there is a need for that profession. There isn’t necessarily a need for racecar drivers. There are hundreds of thousands that want to do this and only a select few get a chance to call it a living one day.”