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Daniel Hemric: ‘I’m not done’ after losing ride for 2020

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RICHMOND, Va. — Daniel Hemric is confident as he figures out where he’ll race next year after Richard Childress Racing announced this week Hemric would not return to the No. 8 team after this season.

“I’m not done,” Hemric said Friday at Richmond Raceway.

Hemric said he is encouraged by the support he has received since the announcement this week.

“I’ve actually been very blown away by the support,” Hemric said. “It’s very humbling to have not only the people inside the industry but your peers as far as the guys you race with on the racetrack. Some of the stars of our sport reached out with their gratitude and their praise for what they feel like you’re doing on and off the racetrack. Those are the guys who really see you in the heat of the moment. Having everyone on that side support me like they have, I think that has led to a lot of phone calls and a lot of conversations with a lot of race teams over the past week. For that I”m thankful.”

Reigning Xfinity Series champion Tyler Reddick is expected to take over the No. 8 ride next year at RCR. As for Hemric, a rookie in Cup this year, he is open to any series for next year.

“I don’t think there is much more I could have done on this side to change the outcome, but with that being said, maybe it is time to rebuild the stock,” Hemric said. “Maybe go back Truck racing or Xfinity racing, or whatever the next opportunity is, to build that stock and show I can win. I’ve won in every single level that I ever ran full-time in on my way up the ladder.”

Hemric understands that even with that level of success early in his career, he’s never won in any of NASCAR’s three national series.

“People always talk about not winning races, hasn’t won a NASCAR race,” said Hemric, whose best finish this season is fifth at Talladega in April, one of two top-10 finishes he’s had this year. “On the flip side of that, I’ve said time and time again, you can go back to any interview I’ve ever done, I feel like I’ve always been a part of a build process. I’ve always been coming into race teams that need the work and as a driver, I’ve always had to work on myself as well. I kind of thrive under that.

“I don’t mind being a part of the build process. The success RCR has had as a Xfinity team this year I feel like started way back in 2017 between myself, Austin (Dillon), Ty (Dillon), and everybody running those cars as much as we were to get that program to where it’s at today. I feel like we were on that same path on the Cup side, we just haven’t seen it come to full vision yet.”

Now, Hemric’s vision will have to lead him elsewhere.

“It is late in the game and things have to start materializing pretty quick in order for me to land in a seat that I am hoping to get by next year in any form,” he said.

“I just want to make sure I end up in a good situation that can ultimately turn into a long-term deal down the road to be successful and desirable in the sport. You want to make sure you eliminate any possibility of something like this happening again. The best way to do that is to put yourself in a position where people can know you can win races. I’m looking forward to whatever is next. I’ve been down and out many of times. Everybody knows my situation, where I’ve come from, the things I’ve overcome to get to here. It’s not different. My back has been put against the wall and now that you’ve made it to the top level of the sport, I don’t care where I end up at. I’m not done.”

Best of the rest: How non-playoff drivers did in Las Vegas

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The Cup playoffs began Sunday night in Las Vegas, and the playoff drivers made their presence known by occupying every spot in the top 10.

But what about the rest?

The first 16 spots were not filled by the 16 playoff drivers. In fact, playoff drivers only made up 13 positions in the top 20.

Here’s a look at the top-finishing drivers who are not contending for the championship:

Jimmie Johnson – finished 11th

With him not participating in the playoffs for the first time in his career, the spotlight wasn’t focused on Johnson very often Sunday.

But the Hendrick Motorsports driver finally put together his first complete run six races into Cliff Daniels’ tenure as his crew chief.

It was their first race together to not be involved in some sort of incident and it saw Johnson earn his first top-15 finish with Daniels. It’s only his second top 15 in the last nine races.

Austin Dillon – Finished 12th

The Richard Childress Racing driver earned his second straight 12th-place finish and his third consecutive finish of 12th or better.

He’s earned a top-15 finish in four of the last five races. That’s after only having one in a 12-race stretch.

Dillon also finished sixth in Stage 1.

“When the caution came out on Lap 180, we pitted to take another swing at loosening up this Chevy,” Dillon said. “Unfortunately, we had an uncontrolled tire penalty but it did allow us to come back down pit road to top off with fuel and adjust on the car more. We got the car better and made a good strategy to stay out for track position during a late caution to pick up additional spots.”

Paul Menard – Finished 14th

Menard took part in his first race since announcing last week that he would retire from full-time competition after this season.

The Wood Brothers Racing driver kicked-off his final 10 races for the team with his sixth top-15 finish in the last nine races. He finished outside the top 15 just once in his last 11 starts at Las Vegas.

Ty Dillon – finished 16th

The Germain Racing driver earned his best finish at Las Vegas in five starts (previous was 24th).

Dillon has finished 20th or better in six of the last nine races.

Daniel Hemric – finished 17th

The rookie driver earned a top-20 finish after two straight DNFs for wrecks. He has only three top 20s in the last nine races.

“Our handling balance would swing a lot from being really tight and then halfway through the run it was like a light switch and I would get super, super loose,” Hemric said. “We got that better throughout the race and back to where I could run more throttle, which allowed us to move forward into the top 10 and be more aggressive on restarts and make some hay during those time. On that last green flag stop we just got a little too free to where I couldn’t make the most time coming off pit road and just struggled a bit on that last run.”

Chris Buescher – finished 18th

The JTG Daugherty Racing driver extended his streak of finishes inside the top 18 to 16 races. The streak began at Kansas Speedway on May 11.

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Clint Bowyer fastest in first of two Cup practices today at Las Vegas

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Clint Bowyer isn’t wasting any time making his presence known in the NASCAR Cup playoffs.

The driver of the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Mustang was fastest in the first of two Cup practices Friday afternoon at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Bowyer ran 21 laps around the 1.5-mile track, with the final lap being the fastest of the 39-car field at 178.059 mph.

Click here for the first practice session results.

William Byron was second-fastest (177.223 mph), followed by three non-playoff entrants: Jimmie Johnson (177.148 mph), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (176.748 mph) and Austin Dillon (176.684).

Sixth through 10th fastest were Brad Keselowski (176.678 mph), Denny Hamlin (176.471), Ty Dillon (176.396), Daniel Suarez (176.327) and Chase Elliott (176.246).

The three slowest of the 16 playoff contenders were Ryan Newman (21st fastest, 174.950 mph), and Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Kyle Larson (22nd, 174.836 mph) and Kurt Busch (23rd, 174.588).

There will be one more practice session this afternoon from 7:30 – 8:20 p.m. ET.

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Silly Season scorecard: Matt DiBenedetto finds new ride for 2020

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That didn’t take long.

Less than a month after it became public that Matt DiBenedetto would not return to Leavine Family Racing in 2020, he has a new ride. DiBenedetto will drive the No. 21 for Wood Brothers Racing in 2020 with Paul Menard stepping back from full-time racing after this season.

So, yes, Denny Hamlin‘s words from Bristol were heard.

“There’s many car owners that finance cars that are on the racetrack, good teams,” Hamlin said after beating DiBenedetto to win the Bristol night race. “They got to step up and grow some balls and take a chance on somebody they really believe in. That or they can continue to run 15th.”

Here’s a look at where the NASCAR Silly Season stands at this point:

ANNOUNCED OPEN RIDES FOR 2020

No. 8: With Richard Childress Racing announcing that Daniel Hemric won’t return to the team (announcement made Sept. 17) next season, all that is left to be done is for the official announcement that Tyler Reddick will move up to take that ride. Childress spoke July 30 about wanting to keep Reddick.

No. 38: Front Row Motorsports must replace David Ragan, who stated Aug. 14 that 2019 would be his final season running a full schedule.

No. 95: The only thing missing is the official announcement that Christopher Bell will drive for Leavine Family Racing next season. Expect that soon.

 

ANNOUNCED CUP RIDES FOR 2020

No. 13: Ty Dillon posted a video on Instagram refuting rumors that he would retire after this season. He has a contract with Germain Racing through 2020.

No. 20: Joe Gibbs Racing announced Sept. 6 that it had signed Erik Jones to an extension. It is a one-year extension for the 2020 season.

No. 21: Matt DiBenedetto replaces Paul Menard at Wood Brothers Racing (announcement made Sept. 10). DiBenedetto’s deal is for 2020 only.

 

AMONG THOSE YET TO ANNOUNCE DEALS FOR 2020

No. 1: Kurt Busch‘s contract expires after this season but all indications are that he’ll return to the Chip Ganassi Racing team with Monster Energy in 2020.

No. 14: Clint Bowyer‘s contract expires after this season but Bowyer stated as recently as at Darlington that things were moving closer to an extension.

No. 41: Daniel Suarez has said that both he and the team have an option on his contract for next year. He has remained confident that he will return to Stewart-Haas Racing.

Ty Dillon denies rumor he will retire

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Ty Dillon said Friday in a video on his Instagram story that he is not retiring and plans to be racing “for many, many years.”

Dillon’s contract with Germain Racing goes through the 2020 season.

In the video he posted Friday, Dillon said:

“Everybody is saying that I’m going to retire at the end of 2020, which couldn’t be more false. I plan on racing for many, many years. I don’t know where it came from, but to hear it from my mouth, I’m not retiring, and I plan on winning races and championships for many years.”

The 27-year-old Dillon has a best finish of fourth this year. He ranks 24th in the points. This is his third full season in Cup. He has been with Germain Racing for each of those seasons.