Fresh off his first NASCAR Xfinity Series championship, Daniel Hemric will make his return to the Cup Series in the season-opening Daytona 500. On Friday, Kaulig Racing announced he will drive the #16 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in the Great American Race, which will be his first Cup start since 2019. The entry is locked into the race with a charter.
Hemric joins Kaulig for 2022 after spending 2021 with Joe Gibbs Racing, during which he failed to win a race but consistency propelled him into the Championship Round. A dramatic overtime finish enabled him to score his maiden NASCAR race victory and the title, making him only the second NASCAR national series champion with just one career win alongside 1950 Grand National Series (now Cup) winner Bill Rexford.
Prior to becoming an Xfinity regular, Hemric ran the full 2019 Cup Series in the #8 for Richard Childress Racing a year after making two starts for the team. He finished thirty-fourth in his Daytona 500 début after being parked for driving under a red flag following a crash. Hemric scored two top tens, including a fifth at Talladega, and a pole at Kansas as he placed twenty-fifth in points. However, with Tyler Reddick having just won his second consecutive Xfinity Series title, RCR elected to place him in the #8.
While Hemric will run the full 2022 Xfinity slate in the #11, he will also share the #16 Cup car with A.J. Allmendinger and Noah Gragson; both drivers are also Xfinity full-timers, with Allmendinger being his Kaulig team-mate while Gragson competes for fellow Chevrolet team JR Motorsports. Gragson is already entered in the 500 in the #62 for Beard Motorsports. The trio also made the Championship Four in 2021. Justin Haley, whom Hemric replaces in the #11, is now a Cup weekly racer in Kaulig’s #31.
Been waiting a long time to get back to this stage,” Hemric tweeted. “Thanks to @MattKaulig (team owner Matt Kaulig) and @C_Rice1 (president Chris Rice) for this opportunity. What a privilege it is to be in the Great America [sic] Race!”