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Hemric on underdog status in XFINITY Series Playoffs: ‘I thrive on it’

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MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – JR Motorsports has three teams in the Championship 4 battling for the NASCAR XFINITY Series title so it’s not a stretch to say the organization is favored heading into Saturday’s Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Daniel Hemric won’t argue the point but that won’t keep the Richard Childress Racing driver from showing up this weekend.

An underdog?

“Personally I would rather be fighting from behind,” Hemric said during Thursday’s media day here at the Loews Miami Beach. “I’ve been doing it all my life, it seems like. So, to be in that situation is something I’m used to.

“But I know we’ve proven ourselves to get to this point. I feel like the hardest point is to get to this point. To know … the slate is swept clean and everybody is on the same page we have as good a shot as anybody.”

His No. 21 team has run its best down the stretch, it seems, with six top-10 finishes in its last eight starts. Good enough to earn the fourth and final playoff spot.

William Byron, with four wins, and Justin Allgaier, with two, have the wins for the JRM group. Teammate Elliott Sadler has none, but like Hemric, has gotten this far on strong finishes and avoiding enough disastrous results to advance on points.

That doesn’t mean that neither can win, only that they haven’t. Yet.

A rookie, Hemric has moved seamlessly from the Camping World Truck Series where he spent two years into the XFINITY program at RCR.

Earlier this year, he said he felt there was “no reason we shouldn’t be one of the (playoff) cars in Homestead,” and it turns out he was right.

Now he’s trying to prove there’s no reason he shouldn’t be hoisting the championship trophy Saturday evening. Allgaier and Sadler are old hands at battles where everything is on the line. Byron’s a youngster but he’s proven to be a fast learner — and faster driver.

Hemric may be the surprise finalist but he doesn’t plan to attack the weekend from that perspective. He’s here, he said, because he and his team earned that right.

“I don’t have any pressure on me,” he said. “I’ve kind of, like I said, lived my life just kind of fighting from behind. I’m good being in the situation I’m in. I actually like to think I thrive on it. It’s just cool to be a part of it.

“This is a once‑in‑a‑lifetime opportunity to be in this situation, and I’m trying to approach it like that.”

 

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