Richard Childress Racing stayed in-house to fill the vacancy on its No. 31 Chevrolet in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, tabbing Daniel Hemric to man the seat beginning in 2019.
Hemric, a native of Kannapolis, North Carolina, is in his second year with RCR as a full-time driver in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. He qualified for the playoffs in both years in the No. 21 Chevrolet, advancing to the Championship 4 in 2017 as a rookie.
His promotion was announced Friday at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and Hemric couldn’t even complete his opening statement of the press conference before the emotions took over. His voice cracked and he wiped his eyes before composing himself.
“That’s what it’s all about, right?” he asked. “I always had faith it would work out. It’s incredibly humbling to know this is my family moving forward.
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The 27-year-old will make his second career start in the Monster Energy Series this weekend at the Charlotte road course. He also drove the No. 8 Chevrolet for RCR in the spring at Richmond. He’ll join Austin Dillon (No. 3 Chevrolet) in the Childress Cup stable full time next year.
“Ever since I was a kid growing up in Kannapolis, I followed and rooted for RCR,” Hemric said in a team release. “I enjoyed competing against Austin (Dillon) and Ty (Dillon) years ago and we became close friends along the way. My dream has always been to race for championships in the NASCAR Cup Series. I have worked hard to get here and those who know me and have supported me, know I take nothing for granted. The time has come to take that next step, and I want to thank Richard for believing in me and providing such an amazing opportunity.”
In 60 Xfinity Series starts with Childress, Hemric has 20 top-five finishes and 33 top 20s. Three of those top fives are runner-up finishes.
The No. 31 Chevrolet is open with veteran Ryan Newman leaving the company at the end of the season to join Roush Fenway Racing following a five-year stint with Childress.
Hemric will become just the third driver to pilot the No. 31 since 2005, joining Newman and Jeff Burton during this stretch.
The team said it would announce sponsorship and other details at a later date.
Team owner Richard Childress compared Hemric’s ability to what he saw years prior in drivers like Austin Dillon, Clint Bowyer and Kevin Harvick, all of whom came up through the RCR ranks.
“I look at what (drivers) have in their heart,” Childress said in his selection of Hemric. “He has what it takes to become a winner. You have to have heart and you have to sacrifice. I know how much Daniel and his family have sacrificed.
“He will win races and will compete for championships.”