BRISTOL, Tenn. - Many NASCAR competitors can trace their racing roots to family members, those from a generation or so removed who raced on either the local or national stage.
Daniel Hemric, driver of the Richard Childress Racing No. 8 Chevrolet in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, has a different sports heritage. And it’s a fitting one to note this weekend as the NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four gets under way in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Hemric, 28, will start 26th in Sunday’s Food City 500 here at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Race fans might not recognize the name Dickie Hemric. He never won the Southern 500 or the Daytona 500 or any other legendary NASCAR event. But Dickie Hemric etched his name in the record books of both the NCAA as well as the NBA.
“He was my grandfather’s first cousin,” Daniel Hemric told the NASCAR Wire Service. “My grandfather, my dad’s dad, I think he was six-foot three, six-four. Obviously, Dickie Hemric (at 6’6”) was in that realm. (The height gene) definitely skipped me.”
Dickie Hemric held the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) scoring record for 50 years, totaling 2,587 points as a Wake Forest Demon Deacon. He was named player of the year during the first two seasons of the ACC’s existence (1954-55). The mark stood until 2006 when it was finally broken by J.J. Reddick of Duke University.
His 1,802 career rebounds still stands as a conference record.
A third-team All-American as a junior and a second-team All-American selection as a senior, Hemric was a member of the Boston Celtics’ first championship-winning team in 1956-57.
Daniel Hemric had no idea of his relative’s exploits on the court until taking in a college game with current RCR teammate Austin Dillon and younger brother Ty Dillon.
“I found out about it, believe it or not, this goes way back,” Hemric recalled. “Almost 13 years ago. I went to my first college basketball game and I went with Austin and Ty. We went to see North Carolina and Wake Forest. We get there inside the arena and I see Hemric hanging from the rafters, the jersey. I had no idea.
“It was something I started doing a little research on after I got out of that situation. It was pretty cool to find out.”
Racing won out over other endeavors when he suffered a knee injury as a teenager.
“That’s something that sidelined me a little bit, led me to staying on four wheels, sitting in the seat,” he said. “I figured that was my path and my knee showed me that. So that’s what I ended up doing.”
Going For Three
Rookie of the Year contender Ryan Preece is a former Bristol winner in both the Whelen Modified Tour and Xfinity Series. Sunday will be his first start at the 0.533-mile oval in the Cup Series.
“I think all short tracks should be good tracks for me, but this is a team sport,” Preece said. “But we’ve got some work to do on our car to make it better and I think we’ll be alright.
“I’ve won here in a Modified and I’ve won here in and Xfinity car, so I expect to run good here (in Cup) for sure.”
Can past success in those series translate?
“I think it’s all relative; a race car is a race car,” he said. “They need to be able to get into the corner, you need to be able to turn the center and you need to be able to put the gas pedal down as quick as possible.
“It’s all the same. It’s just a heavier car with a smaller tire and a radial tire.”
Record Run For Blaney
Team Penske driver Ryan Blaney didn’t get the pole, but the 24-year-old did establish a track qualifying record with his run in the second round Friday at BMS as the field was set for Sunday’s Food City 500.
Blaney’s speed of 132.076 mph (14.528 sec.) in the No. 12 Ford eclipsed the previous mark of 131.407 mph set by Denny Hamlin in 2015.
He becomes the 14th driver to hold a current track qualifying mark. Kurt Busch holds the record at more tracks than any active driver – Charlotte (both Roval and 1.5-mile layout), Las Vegas and Texas Motor Speedways.
Shaking Off The New
Seven races into his first season at Roush Fenway Racing and veteran driver Ryan Newman sits 20th in points. He is coming off his best finish of the season, an 11th-place run last weekend at Texas, since taking over the driving duties of the No. 6 Ford Mustang.
“I’ve spent four times as much time at the shop per week (this year) than I did in the last five years,” Newman said.
“I think we have some really great meetings when we have our sit-downs, and layers of meetings – not just a meeting but layers of meetings that make us perform better and learn where we’re at.
“I think that we have much better potential of showing what we’re made of as we hit some of these race tracks the second time than we did the first time just looking at our experiences so far this year.”
-Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers Erik Jones and Joey Logano led Saturday’s two practice sessions for the series, posting times of 14.771 and 14.894 seconds, respectively.
-Pole winner Chase Elliott clocked in 16th quickest in the final session while defending race winner Kyle Busch was fifth overall.
WDUN will carry live PRN radio coverage of Sunday's Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Food City 500 beginning at 1 o’clock on WDUN 102.9 FM, AM 550 and streaming live on AccessWDUN.
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Bristol Motor Speedway – Bristol, TN
Food City 500 – April 7, 2019
Sunday’s Starting Lineup
1. (9) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 131.713 mph.
2. (24) William Byron, Chevrolet, 131.371 mph.
3. (12) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 131.182 mph.
4. (20) Erik Jones, Toyota, 131.057 mph.
5. (11) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 130.700 mph.
6. (10) Aric Almirola, Ford, 130.602 mph.
7. (22) Joey Logano, Ford, 130.229 mph.
8. (14) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 130.168 mph.
9. (21) Paul Menard, Ford, 130.026 mph.
10. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 129.824 mph.
11. (6) Ryan Newman, Ford, 129.640 mph.
12. (2) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 129.622 mph.
13. (4) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 130.477 mph.
14. (88) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 130.477 mph.
15. (3) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 130.274 mph.
16. (42) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 130.229 mph.
17. (18) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 129.824 mph.
18. (34) Michael McDowell, Ford, 129.789 mph.
19. (17) Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Ford, 129.657 mph.
20. (41) Daniel Suarez, Ford, 129.570 mph.
21. (95) Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, 129.351 mph.
22. (38) David Ragan, Ford, 129.317 mph.
23. (19) Martin Truex, Jr., Toyota, 129.177 mph.
24. (13) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 128.339 mph.
25. (37) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 128.658 mph.
26. (8) Daniel Hemric #, Chevrolet, 128.554 mph.
27. (1) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 128.305 mph.
28. (43) Darrell Wallace, Jr., Chevrolet, 128.288 mph.
29. (36) Matt Tifft #, Ford, 128.031 mph.
30. (47) Ryan Preece #, Chevrolet, 127.258 mph.
31. (00) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, 126.603 mph.
32. (32) Corey LaJoie, Ford, 125.675 mph.
33. (51) Gray Gaulding(i), Ford, 125.576 mph.
34. (52) Bayley Currey #, Chevrolet, 123.833 mph.
35. (66) Timmy Hill(i), Toyota, 121.898 mph.
36. (77) Quin Houff, Chevrolet, 115.202 mph.
37. (15) Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, 0.000 mph