Daniel Hemric picked a fine time to score his first-career NASCAR Xfinity Series win. In Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship Race, Daniel Hemric found himself in position to win the championship in a green-white-checkered battle with defending champion Austin Cindric.
Hemric nearly crashed battling Cindric for the lead with two laps to go, but heading into the final turn on the final lap, Hemric drove the No. 18 Toyota Supra for all it was worth, and he got alongside Cindric coming out of the final turn.
The two scraped and banged on each other’s doors across the finish line and Hemric emerged victorious.
“Unbelievable,” Hemric said after catching his breath. “These guys right here, they been asking me all year, ‘How bad do you want it?’ I gave one away here in the spring. Felt like we had to give away one last week to get here. We were not going to be denied.”
Hemric, who had scored 10-career second-place finishes in 119 career NASCAR Xfinity Series starts, is a winner and a champion of the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
Following climbing from his car, Hemric did his patented backflip celebration from the top of the car.
“I have been waiting a damn long time to do that,” Hemric said of the backflip.
Hemric’s win comes after his team’s hauler had issues after hitting a dear carcass on the path to Phoenix. After the car finally arrived around an hour before final practice, many felt this was a sign that the championship wasn’t meant to be for Hemric.
“That never crossed my mind,” crew chief Dave Rogers said emphatically saying there was never a plan to throw in the towel.
Cindric came up just 3-hundredths of a second short of becoming a back-to-back NASCAR Xfinity Series champion. Adding to the heartbreak, was the fact that Cindric led a race-high 113 laps.
Despite the heartbreaking finish, Cindric took the defeat in stride.
“If everyone in the stands enjoyed it, then it’s good racing,” Cindric said of Hemric’s move to win. “Very appreciative of the opportunity to race on such a big stage and the opportunity to race for Roger Penske and represent Ford Performance, our companies and all of our sponsors that helped us this season. It would have been awesome to finish this out. I felt like we were the dominant race car and did everything right. Came up just a little short.”
Harrison Burton finished in third, while Riley Herbst and Justin Haley finished fourth and fifth.
John Hunter Nemechek finished sixth, and came up short of getting an owner’s championship for the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 54 team.
Brandon Jones, Brett Moffitt, Justin Allgaier and Sheldon Creed rounded out the top-10 finishers on the night.
Noah Gragson and AJ Allmendinger, the other two Championship 4 contenders finished 12th and 14th.
Gragson was running near the front, when he pounded the wall with around nine laps left in the race.
Allmendinger found trouble with a loose wheel, which sent him spinning on lap 180.