FORT WORTH, Texas – A frustrated Daniel Hemric marched over to his RCR teammate Matt Tifft’s car parked on pit road following Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Texas Motor Speedway.
The trio of RCR teammates – Hemric, Tifft and Shane Lee — tangled late in the 300-mile event, affecting Hemric’s position in the playoff standings. Hemric finished 10th and now sits fourth, just above the cutline with one race remaining until the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Tifft is 14 points below the cutline, ranking sixth of eight drivers.
Tifft attempted to approach Hemric again minutes later, but the No. 21 driver wasn’t ready to chat.
“Tifft wanted to talk then, I wasn’t having it,” Hemric said. “We’ll talk eventually, we’ll work it out. But everybody’s racing for everything, right? You’re not supposed to give anybody anything. And I understand that. But that’s one thing, to drive in the back of somebody is something else.”
“… Just wrong place, wrong time all day it seemed like … The SouthPoint Hotel Casino Chevrolet is fast, just like we’ve been for the last two or three months. So, just really pissed off at the finish we had because my teammate drove in the back of me off (Turn) 2, turned me sideways and left the other teammate to get underneath me and he just busted his ass underneath me.
“Damn, it’s frustrating,” he added. “I don’t know what we’ve got to do to win one of these damn things. It’s getting frustrating. Our race car’s too good not to win races.”
The drama unfolded with five laps remaining when Hemric said Tifft’s No. 2 Chevrolet “ran into the back” of his No. 21 Chevrolet, causing the No. 3 of Shane Lee to get underneath him and make contact.
“There’s no way around it,” Hemric said. “It wasn’t something the 3 could do – he’s doing a heck of a job in only his third or fourth start in these cars. But the 2’s the one who put him in that situation.
“We work really good together, it’s just a frustrating day,” added Hemric. “You’re bound to have days where you run into each other. Just never happy about it when it happens.”
Tifft said he didn’t think he made contact with Hemric’s No. 21, saying that “the the air just got him free and I had momentum behind.” His No. 2 Chevrolet crossed the start-finish line seventh, but Tifft thought they had a better car than where they finished.
“The good thing is we ran together the whole race and both of our cars had speed,” Tifft said on the snafu. “I think we’re both frustrated at the end because we felt like it played out to where we both got back in the pack and were both trying to make our way back up … Once he got sideways, I just tried to duck out to make sure he didn’t get turned and that I had a clear path, too.
“He was frustrated (about) the fact that he got put in that situation. But he understood that I had to go and if I would have gave, somebody would have done the same to me and put me in the same spot. … We’ll be fine, we’ll talk it out.”
Tifft and Hemric weren’t the only Xfinity Series Playoffs drivers to experience frustrating ends to their days in the Lone Star State; six-time 2018 winner Christopher Bell exited the race early at Lap 133 after his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota was caught up in its second wreck of the day.
This marks the second straight week Bell’s race has ended on a wrecker, as he also exited Kansas early for a wreck on Oct. 20.
“This format, it’s very tough and it creates a lot of drama,” Bell said. “I’ve always been proud of myself for winning races and I’ve won six races this year and I’ve got a chance to win two more. I’m going to go out there and try to win races. I’ve never been a points racer and my results show for that. I’m either up front or crashing. I’m going to go out and try to win two more races.”
The incident put him 34 points below the cutline – and in a must-win situation heading into ISM Raceway next week.
“It doesn’t matter that my back is up against the wall, we’re going to go out there and try to win two races and that’s the only thing we can do,” he said. “At least we know what we have to do.
“Today, I came in here with a different mentality to just survive and I didn’t survive, so screw that, I’m going to try to win.”