Watch as Daniel Hemric puts the bumper to Austin Cindric in the final corner at Phoenix Raceway; With the move, he claimed his first career win and grabbed the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship
On Saturday night, Phoenix Raceway hosted the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship finale. The 1-mile track brought the fireworks.
Hear from the drivers and watch the Phoenix Raceway video highlights below.
Coming into Phoenix, Daniel Hemric had run 119 NASCAR Xfinity Series events. The driver had 44 top-5 runs and 10 of those were runner up finishes.
30-year-old Hemric was one of just four drivers eligible for a championship. He was in a battle with Noah Gragson, Austin Cindric and AJ Allmendinger.
Daniel Hemric vs Austin Cindric
In the closing laps, Austin Cindric was driving away with it. He led the field by 2 seconds.
However, with 20 to go, AJ Allmendinger spun while attempting to hit the pit lane with a loose wheel. That was followed by several more cautions. Eventually, a long cleanup from a crash involving Josh Williams and Jade Buford, sent the race into a thrilling overtime finish.
Hemric looked inside of Cindric. He got loose under him, they made light contact but Cindric held the lead.
When they took the white flag, Cindric led Hemric by a car length. As the two drivers entered turned three for the final time, Hemric drove it deep to the inside and was able to get to the rear bumper of Cindric. He leaned on him just hard enough to make Cindric chase he car up the track.
Hemric then put his throttle pedal down. He drove inside and doored Cindric as they raced to the finish line.
By just a few feet, Daniel Hemric struck his first tally in the win column! It was his first career NASCAR Xfinity win and his first championship, at the same time.
Daniel Hemric comments on the battle with Austin Cindric
Hemric celebrated with a backflip off the roof of the car, Carl Edwards style.
“These guys, they’ve been asking me all year, ‘How bad do you want it?’,” Daniel Hemric told NBC Sports from the front stretch after the win.
“I gave one away here in the Spring. I felt like we had to give one up last week to get here. We were not going to be denied.”
“Everyone that took a chance on me, somehow or another in 2015. They stuck with me in times where they probably shouldn’t have to be honest with you.”
“How about that race fans? Was that back flip good enough for you? I’ve been waiting a long damn time to do that.”
“I blacked out,” Hemric said of the final lap. Just knew I had to be the first one to the line. I was just close enough to not completely use him up but we work our asses off for an opportunity like this.”
“This is what it’s all about, winning at the second highest level of all of motorsports. I’ll take all the heartbreaks all over again to live this moment right here.”
Austin Cindric understands the move
“If everyone in the fans enjoyed it then it’s good racing,” Austin Cindric said after the race.
“I’m very appreciative of being able to race on such a big stage. It would have been awesome to finish this out. We had a dominate race car, we did everything right.”
“Come up a little short. Sometimes it’s like that way. Unfortunately, at the end of both seasonal championships, I’m getting moved out of the way.”
“That’s hard racing. That’s why everyone enjoys watching this series. It’s because there’s a lot on the line. Thankful for the opportunity and pissed to be 2nd for like the third week in a row.”
“I know my left rear bumper cover is vulnerable as ever,” Cindric said of the final restart. “Obviously, Daniel was in the position to be the advocate of the that. He certainly used it and he’s the champion because of it.”