When gates opened up in the CRA Super Late Model pit area at Lanier National Speedway (GA) during SpeedFest 2011 weekend, Daniel Hemric’s Jeff Fultz Racing/WearCrete #67 remained quietly under the radar, out of both the view and the stopwatches of many inside the pits. Hemric was making just his first high-horsepower Super Late Model effort, after several impressive races with a crate-engine Late Model, at a track that he had competed on only once before in a full-fendered racecar.
Some may not have considered Hemric a favorite going into SpeedFest, but as soon as the #67 fired to a roar, he instantly became a contender. Hemric dialed in the #67 in practice, turned in the sixth-best qualifying time and then proceeded to have arguably the best of the 32 top-level Super Late Model machines in the field on Sunday, January 30th. Hemric led several laps during SpeedFest 2011 and had it not been for some contact late from another competitor that affected the car’s handling enough to drop him to third at the checkers, he may have been able to score his first Super Late Model victory.
“Our goal anytime we go to the racetrack is to win,” said Hemric after his podium finish at SpeedFest. “With (car owner) Curtis Venable, Jeff Fultz, Nick Easton, Ted Musgrave, Jr. and everyone on this team, I feel like it’s always a possibility. There’s never a reason why we shouldn’t win. Today, a little on-track incident took us out of contention, but the car was awesome.
“I felt like everyone was doubting us a little bit. We tried to park in the back and not let anyone know we were any good all weekend. But we knew we had a good car all weekend and it showed. I’m happy with a third-place run for sure. I just have to thank Jeff Fultz, WearCrete, Hoyt Demis and everyone who let me come out and run this deal.”
After starting sixth, Hemric picked his way up to a battle for the lead, eventually taking the top spot on lap 90 of the 200-lap feature. Hemric continued to lead until the 15-minute halfway break. Race rules based the restart order for the second half of the event based on how many tires were changed by each car during the break. Hemric would line up 10th for the second half of the race due to taking more tires than some, but that wasn’t a hindrance once the green flag dropped.
Hemric charged back into the top-five and took only 25 laps after the break to get back up to the second position. Hemric stayed in the battle for the lead for the remaining laps, only to have his best shot at victory end when contact from another competitor knocked the toe out of the car and negatively affected the #67’s handling. Still, Hemric was able to fight through to finish an impressive third.
“I got out of the car afterwards and everyone could tell I was frustrated because I thought we had the car to win. Everyone’s telling me that I’ll have my races to win, so now I’m just waiting for them to come.”
SpeedFest weekend was a highlight for several reasons, even beyond a strong third-place finish for Hemric. He celebrated his 20th birthday on January 27th, was a factor all weekend on the track, and watched on SPEED as his team owner and crew chief, Jeff Fultz, won the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown in Irwindale, California as a crew chief for Jason Bowles on Saturday night.
“Fultz Racing has their whole program put together really well,” added Hemric. “I feel like we’re on to something and we’re getting better every track we go to. Those guys getting the win out at Irwindale is awesome. They worked their butts off to get that ‘W,’ so I’m just happy for them.”’
Daniel Hemric, the 2010 winner of the “Legends Million” event at Charlotte Motor Speedway, is currently working with Jeff Fultz Racing and Demis Racing on a schedule of Late Model events for the 2011 season. A full schedule will be announced soon along with the launch of a brand-new official Daniel Hemric website, www.danielhemric.com, coming soon from 51 Sports.