Podcast: Why a couple that stayed together no longer races together

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When she began dating Daniel Hemric, the former Kenzie Ruston knew they both couldn’t remain on their path together.

Not as a couple, mind you. Daniel and Kenzie Hemric tied the knot more than two years ago in Jamaica.

While their relationship was strong, it was the trajectory of their racing careers that was unsustainable for both securing full-time rides at the highest levels of NASCAR.

“Both of us weren’t going to make it,” Kenzie said during a NASCAR on NBC interview last year (watcht the video above). “I feel I truly stand behind him. I get to live through him.”

Shortly after getting married, Kenzie Hemric put her racing career aside to support her husband, who had begun racing full time in the Xfinity Series for Richard Childress Racing. During the most recent NASCAR on NBC Podcast episode, Daniel Hemric discussed how the couple handled their divergent career paths

“I told everybody, Kenzie is a full-blown superstar, the way she’s handled the last couple of years from her career on the driving side not working out, and the way she has handled that and stuck behind me, it’s been incredible, really, man,” Daniel said on the podcast. “I think about when we met, there were times I was sleeping on the floor of her Late Model shop while she was racing full time, doing what she loved to do, and I didn’t have a ride.

“To see the tables turned and her accept it the way she has and just be there for me is what life and hopefully the person you find to share life with is what it’s all about. She’s taken it with stride.”

She also has been his biggest cheerleader and critic as Hemric, 28, has risen to RCR’s No. 31 Chevrolet in Cup. Through nine races, it’s been a tough rookie season for Hemric, who hasn’t finished higher than 18th.

After finishing 31st because of contact with the wall at Auto Club Speedway, Hemric exited the car to a greeting from his wife.

“She looked me straight in the eye and said, ‘You screwed up, 100 percent,’” he said. “She was right. I just appreciate how real she is with me. Over time people will see that, she’s extremely passionate about it. It’s cool to find that person you can share that with and know that she has a better appreciation for it than most ever will. Very cool dynamic we can share together, and it’s cool to have her on my side.”

Kenzie Hemric, 27, made 44 starts in the K&N Series from 2013-15 with a career-best second at Iowa Speedway on Aug. 1, 2014. Daniel Hemric said there was never “a definite talk” about how to handle being a racing couple because Kenzie’s opportunities began to dry up as Daniel began racing full time in the truck series.

“The timing just didn’t work out,” Daniel said. “It took until two years ago, right before we got married. By then I’d gotten the Xfinity contract. Not that’s what it’s about, but we knew so much more time would be dedicated to what I had going on, and it was going to take all of both of our time to do it 100%. At the time, her Late Model stuff was great but to put in the effort in that I felt I owed her, it would take away from one or the other, so we made the decision that she would come and support me full time.”

There is a Super Late Model in the Hemrics’ garage that still might be put to use for Kenzie in the Snowball Derby or a local race but probably just for fun and not as a jump-start on her career.

“We decided fortunately for one of us, and for both of us, that we’re getting this opportunity,” Daniel said. “But we don’t look at it as, ‘You made, it and I didn’t.’ We did it together because when I say literally has been there from the beginning. She’s seen that side of Daniel Hemric to where it’s at now. She fully gets it. We just do it together.”

During the podcast, Daniel Hemric also discusses:

–The numerous breaks he caught to reach the Cup Series without many connections;

–His life-changing Legends Million victory and the amusing aftermath of siphoning gasoline from his winning car and sleeping at a Steak N Shake;

–His friendships with Bubba Wallace, Ryan Blaney and other up and comers in Cup;

–His Kannapolis, North Carolina, upbringing and the parallels to Dale Earnhardt.

You can listen to the episode by clicking on the embed above, or via Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Play or wherever you download podcasts.

Raphael Lessard to drive full-time for Kyle Busch Motorsports in 2020

Kyle Busch Motorsports
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Canadian driver Raphael Lessard will compete full-time in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the 2020 season, the team announced Thursday.

The 18-year-old native of St. Joseph de Beauce, Quebec, will drive the No. 4 Toyota Tundra for KBM and will also compete for Truck Series Rookie of the Year honors.

Lessard has competed in five Truck races this season, three for KBM and two for DGR-Crosley Racing, with two top-10 finishes including a best showing of ninth at Iowa. He has an average starting position of 10.4 and an average finish of 11.1.

Also this year, Lessard posted two top-five and three top-10 finishes in three ARCA Menards Series starts and one win, one top-five and two top-10 finish in the NASCAR Pinty’s Series in Canada. His win came at his home track, Autodrome Chaudiere in Vallee-Jonction, Quebec, on June 29 when he led a race-high 153 laps.

“I’ve been working really hard the last few years to put myself in position to drive full-time for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series — so this opportunity is a dream come true,” Lessard said in a media release. “Being able to drive for such a great organization in one of NASCAR’s top three series is going to be awesome and I’m going to work hard on and off the race track to learn as much as I can to get better every race.”

Added team owner and NASCAR Cup driver Kyle Busch, who will be bidding for his second career Cup championship this Sunday in Miami, “We’ve watched Raphael grow as both a driver and a person since joining our Super Late Model program in 2018 and we’re looking forward to being a part of his continued progression as he graduates to a full-time role in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series next year.”

Lessard won two events in KBM’s No. 51 Super Late Model in 2018; the Short Track U.S. Nationals at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway and the Red Bud 400 ARCA/CRA Super Series race at Anderson (Ind.) Speedway.

In 16 starts for KBM across the CARS Super Late Model Tour, the Southern Super Series and the ARCA/CRA Super Series, Lessard posted two wins, three poles, seven top-five and 10 top-10 finishes last season.

“Similar to Erik Jones and Christopher Bell before him, Raphael joined our Super Late Model program and immediately won some big races,” Busch added. “Then, when given a part-time Truck Series schedule, they all proved capable of running up front and earned the right to compete full time. Erik and Christopher went on to win races and a championship in trucks, now Raphael has the opportunity to continue to follow their blueprint.”

Sponsor and crew chief announcements for Lessard as well as announcements on the rest of the KBM driver lineup for 2020 will be made at a later date.

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NASCAR America at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN: Previewing championship races

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America airs from 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN and will preview the championship races this weekend from Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Krista Voda will be joined by Marty Snider, Parker Kligerman and Nate Ryan. Snider and Ryan will be reporting from  NASCAR’s Championship 4 Media Day.

We’ll also have interviews with all four NASCAR Cup Championship 4 drivers: Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin.

If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, watch online at http:/nascarstream.nbcsports.com. If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 5 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.

NBC Sports, NASCAR to launch ‘TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold’

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Press release

STAMFORD, Conn. and DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Nov. 14, 2019) – NASCAR® and NBC Sports have teamed up to launch TrackPassTM on NBC Sports Gold, a new streaming product representing NASCAR’s most significant undertaking in the direct-to-consumer space.

Set to launch in early December, TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold builds off the foundation set by FansChoice.tv and immediately becomes the most robust live and on-demand motorsports content offering in the domestic digital marketplace.

TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold will bring fans more exclusive live motorsports events and an extensive library of archived documentaries and films. The platform will offer exclusive live viewing of a multitude of motorsports, including American Flat Track, select ARCA Menards Series™ events (including ARCA Menards Series East and ARCA Menards Series West), NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour™, and tentpole grassroots racing events, as well as NASCAR Cup Series™ and NASCAR Xfinity Series™ practice and qualifying sessions (NBC Sports’ half of the schedule only).

International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) enthusiasts are also covered, as TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold will feature live and archived content from the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship™, IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge and IMSA Prototype Challenge. Live NASCAR national series races (NASCAR Cup Series, NASCAR Xfinity Series, NASCAR Gander Outdoors Trucks Series™) will not be offered on the platform.

“The launch of TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold is a significant step forward in both our commitment to grassroots racing and the evolution of our direct-to-consumer strategy,” said Steve Phelps, NASCAR president. “By partnering with NBC Sports, we can deliver more high-quality content to fans who have passionately followed their favorite racing series via FansChoice.tv, while increasing product availability and reliability.”

“Our partnership with NASCAR on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold is a win for racing fans across the U.S., from four-wide action at superspeedways to two wheels sliding across dirt tracks,” said Sam Flood, Executive Producer and President, Production, NBC and NBCSN. “TrackPass will deliver unprecedented, exclusive live coverage of a wide variety of diehard racing fans’ favorite series – from IMSA, ARCA and American Flat Track, to grassroots racing at iconic local tracks like Bowman-Gray Stadium and Myrtle Beach Speedway. TrackPass is a must-have for passionate race fans.”

Fans can access all the content on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold for $4.99/month or $44.99/year. Lowerpriced, series-specific subpackages for IMSA, AFT and NASCAR Roots content will also be available. Both the IMSA and NASCAR Roots (which includes ARCA, Whelen Modified Tour, tentpole grassroots events and select NASCAR practice and qualifying sessions) packages are $2.99/month or $19.99/year. The American Flat Track package will have a $1.99/month or $10.99/year introductory rate for 2020. Existing FansChoice.tv registered users will receive an introductory free trial to TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold.

While FansChoice.tv was a web-based platform, TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold allows users to cast streamed content on a connected device via NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app, letting fans to experience racing action on their preferred hardware, including big-screen environments. Upon launch, TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold will be available on desktop web browsers via the NBC Sports app on iOS and Android phones and tablets, Apple TV (Gen 4), Roku, Amazon Fire TV, AndroidTV, Xfinity X1, Xfinity Flex and Chromecast devices connected via HDMI.

Click here for additional information on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold.

In the meantime, catch the crowning of the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Champion from Homestead-Miami Speedway this Sunday, November 17, at 3 p.m. ET on NBC or click here to stream the race live.

JJ Yeley to drive full-time in Cup in 2020 for Rick Ware Racing

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Rick Ware Racing announced Thursday that it will field three full-time cars in the 2020 NASCAR Cup season.

The team revealed that veteran driver J.J. Yeley will be one of its three full-time drivers. The other two drivers will be announced at a later date, the team said.

“I can’t thank Rick and Lisa Ware enough for the opportunity to be back behind the wheel of a NASCAR Cup Series car full-time next year,” Yeley said in a media release. “They are a family owned team, who continues to grow and build new relationships with sponsors, and expand their efforts in NASCAR. Over the past couple weeks, we’ve accumulated some pretty solid finishes and can’t wait to see what we can accomplish in 2020.”

Yeley has made 14 starts for RWR this season with an average start of 35.9 and an average finish of 29.2. His best finish was 12th in the summer race at Daytona.

Yeley has made 290 career Cup starts, with a best finish of second at Charlotte in May 2007 for Joe Gibbs Racing. He also has made 328 Xfinity Series starts (0 wins, 15 top five finishes) and 35 Truck Series starts (0 wins, 2 top 10 finishes).

“I am excited to have JJ Yeley on board with the Rick Ware Racing organization for the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season,” team owner Rick Ware said in a media release. “JJ is a great asset to any team, and has a proven track record for bringing home solid finishes for RWR. I look forward to having him on board, as we continue to grow this team.”

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