In a sense, Daniel Hemric is learning to walk again.
After two strong seasons in the Xfinity Series (fourth in points in 2017 and third in 2018), Hemric is learning to race in a whole different way in his rookie Cup season.
“The No. 8 team is focused on putting one foot in front of the other,” Hemric said last weekend at Richmond Raceway.
Hemric’s first nine Cup races of 2019 for Richard Childress Racing have been a struggle. His best finish has been 18th (at Phoenix), and he’s coming off a 19th-place finish at Richmond, which buoyed his hopes after four prior finishes between 27th and 33rd.
“Coming out of Richmond with a top-20 finish? We’ll take it,” the Kannapolis, North Carolina native said.
Even with the rough start, Hemric hasn’t lost any motivation, or more importantly, support.
“It’s great to have a group of guys that haven’t given up on me,” he said. “We didn’t finish exactly where we wanted (at Richmond), but we definitely out-kicked our coverage from the positions we’ve put ourselves in over the last few weeks. We’ll take it and hopefully it’s a building moment for everyone on this No. 8 team.”
Hemric knows it’s just a matter of time before things click and results go in his favor. Until then, he’s not panicking, not doing anything crazy.
“It’s just been a matter to fall back on the things that got me through times like this in my life,” he said. “This is definitely one of the harder moments because you kind of got to regroup and redo it all over again, so it’s such a quick timeframe.
“Some of the other series I’ve ran, you have more time to dwell or rebuild on whatever situation and so it’s kind of a good thing, bad thing. You have to turn it around really quick and flip it around.”
In addition to his team, Hemric is also getting a lot of support from his wife, family and friends.
“They know the trials and things we’re going through and it’s not anything that any haven’t experienced before,” he said. “It’s just been a little longer drawn out than we would want it to be.
“In the grand scheme of things, I’ve said that when the sun comes up, you get another shot at it and that’s the way I’m approaching it.”
Even fans are pitching in to do what they can to help Hemric shake the bad luck problems that continue to plague him and his team. One fan even went so far as to send Hemric and his team eight rabbit foots to hopefully bring some good vibes.
Hemric went into the Easter break 28th in the Cup standings. Teammate Austin Dillon is 14th in the standings, coming off his best finish of the season, sixth, at Richmond.
“I don’t look at Austin as just a teammate, he’s family to me,” Hemric said. “I watched him grow up and have been a part of some of his success and seen him have the success he’s had. He’s also had his own struggles at times and stuff that I’ve seen and witnessed with my own eyes.”
That’s why Hemric huddled with both Dillon and team owner Richard Childress after Texas (33rd, second-worst finish of the season).
“I asked them both, ‘Man, this is probably the bottom for me. I got to know which way to go here,” Hemric said.
And that’s where the learning to walk again analogy came back into play.
“They said just keep putting your best foot forward and leaning on guys like that who have experienced the same struggles at times and came out on the other side with success, that’s all the motivation you need,” Hemric said. “It’s no different with our boss (Childress) and what he’s done with the company, Richard Childress Racing.”