The regular season was not a smooth ride for Daniel Hemric and the No. 11 Kaulig Racing team. He still reached the Xfinity Series playoffs, and he is now ready to “rise to the occasion” and battle for a title.
Hemric spoke about his playoff chances prior to the trip to Texas Motor Speedway. He explained that there have been struggles throughout the regular season and that he shouldn’t even be in the playoff picture. However, now that he has secured his spot, he now has an opportunity to return to the championship four for the fourth time.
“We should not be racing for a championship in Phoenix,” Hemric said during a Zoom call with media members. “But I also know that this race team can get to Phoenix, and if we can get there, I feel strong as anyone that we can compete.
“So that’s why through the first part of the season, [I was] not really being a mix or player, if you will. I don’t know if there’s something different about the playoffs. I love [being able] to rise to the occasion. Looking forward for this race team to have an opportunity to do the same thing.”
Hemric has qualified for the championship four every time that he has reached the Xfinity Series playoffs. This includes the 2017 season when he finished fourth for Richard Childress Racing and the 2018 season when he finished third for the same team. He also reached the championship four in 2021 for Joe Gibbs Racing, and he won the title.
Hemric’s Playoffs Begin at an Intermediate Track
Unlike the Camping World Truck Series and the Cup Series, the Xfinity Series drivers don’t begin the playoffs until late September. They will kick off the Round of 12 at Texas Motor Speedway before taking on Talladega Superspeedway and the Charlotte Roval.
Two of these tracks are wild cards while the third, Texas, is one where Hemric has completed all seven races that he has started while posting four top-10 finishes and three top-fives. Now it is a track where he could gain some crucial points after finishing 11th in the spring race.
“I feel like Texas has been a great racetrack for me in the past, kind of in all configurations and all race teams, but I’ve had some really good race cars there,” Hemric said. “So I feel like driving a good race car, fast race car, balanced race car is the key. And I think we have… honestly, our weakest program has been probably that style of racetrack all year.
“But we also know, hopefully, this place is where we can make our most gains when we start this playoff. So looking at the speedways, all of Kaulig Racing’s statistics speak for themselves, as well as the Roval with AJ [Allmendinger] winning the last couple years in a row. … We just have an opportunity to go there as a race team and improve on what we did in the spring.”
The 2022 Season Has Been a Learning Process
As Hemric explained during his media availability, the 2022 season has been a learning process. He returned to the Chevrolet family after joining Kaulig Racing, and he adjusted to a different crew and culture.
There were some struggles as Hemric and Kaulig Racing tried to bring the best cars to the track each season. Sometimes they did not have the speed. Other times they had to attempt to rebound from bouts of bad luck. Through it all, they gathered data about where they needed to make strides before the playoffs began.
“Honestly, there’s not one [issue] that we are not putting emphasis on, there’s literally not a single area that we’re not focused on,” Hemric said. “We know that throughout the regular season, our strengths were very few and our weaknesses were a lot. And we’ve slowly but surely identified those.
“And identifying them and actually rectifying them are two different things. So we’ve been really trying to pull the rope the same direction, a lot of things that we’ve tried hadn’t worked. But we have tried those things to gain data throughout the season. And hopefully, we can, like I said, put all the pieces of the puzzle in the right places.”