Daniel Hemric capitalized on an Overtime restart to capture his first career victory in his 120th Xfinity Series race, earning the 2021 Xfinity Series championship at Phoenix Raceway.
Maintaining the gap to defending champion Austin Cindric over the final two laps of the race, Hemric was able to get to the bumper of the Team Penske driver to move him up the racetrack on the final lap.
After beating and banging coming to the stripe, the driver of the Joe Gibbs Racing Poppy Bank Toyota was able to edge Cindric by a nose after a record-tying 10 runner-up finishes prior to earning his first career victory.
“I blacked out. Just knew I had to be the first one to the line,” Hemric said on the NBCSN telecast. “I thought I let him (Cindric) get too much of a run off of (turn) four, drove into one and maintained, and knew I was close enough.”
“This is what it’s all about,” Hemric continued. “Winning at the second highest level in all of motorsports. What an honor. Unbelievable.”
A gracious Cindric won the first Stage of the race and led a race-high 113 laps, but was unable to bring home his second consecutive championship.
“I’m very appreciative of the opportunity to race on such a big stage … It would have been awesome to finish this out. I felt like we had a dominant race car, I feel like we did everything right. Came up a little bit short.”
Speaking on the contact with Hemric, Cindric added: “Obviously moved out of the way and doored, but that’s hard racing. That’s why everyone enjoys watching this series, and it’s because there’s a lot on the line.”
Fellow championship hopeful Noah Gragson tagged the wall hard while running in third place with seven laps to go, and finished a disappointing 12th.
A.J. Allmendinger, the fourth finisher amongst the Championship Four, had vibration issues for much of the night – spinning out with 20 laps remaining – and was only able to muster a 14th place finish.
Harrison Burton, Riley Herbst and Justin Haley rounded out the top-five. Completing the top-10 were John Hunter Nemechek, Brandon Jones, Brett Moffitt, Justin Allgaier and Sheldon Creed.
Looking ahead to 2022, Hemric will move over to the No. 11 car at Kaulig Racing as Haley moves to Cup full-time for Kaulig; Cindric moves into the No. 2 car at Team Penske in Cup full-time; and Harrison Burton moves into the famed No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford full-time next season.
The 2022 Xfinity Series season kicks off at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, Feb. 19 at 5 p.m. ET on FS1.