Podcast: Why a couple that stayed together no longer races together
When she began dating Daniel Hemric, the former Kenzie Ruston knew they both couldn’t remain on their path together.
Not as a couple, mind you. Daniel and Kenzie Hemric tied the knot more than two years ago in Jamaica.
While their relationship was strong, it was the trajectory of their racing careers that was unsustainable for both securing full-time rides at the highest levels of NASCAR.
“Both of us weren’t going to make it,” Kenzie said during a NASCAR on NBC interview last year (watcht the video above). “I feel I truly stand behind him. I get to live through him.”
Shortly after getting married, Kenzie Hemric put her racing career aside to support her husband, who had begun racing full time in the Xfinity Series for Richard Childress Racing. During the most recent NASCAR on NBC Podcast episode, Daniel Hemric discussed how the couple handled their divergent career paths
“I told everybody, Kenzie is a full-blown superstar, the way she’s handled the last couple of years from her career on the driving side not working out, and the way she has handled that and stuck behind me, it’s been incredible, really, man,” Daniel said on the podcast. “I think about when we met, there were times I was sleeping on the floor of her Late Model shop while she was racing full time, doing what she loved to do, and I didn’t have a ride.
“To see the tables turned and her accept it the way she has and just be there for me is what life and hopefully the person you find to share life with is what it’s all about. She’s taken it with stride.”
She also has been his biggest cheerleader and critic as Hemric, 28, has risen to RCR’s No. 31 Chevrolet in Cup. Through nine races, it’s been a tough rookie season for Hemric, who hasn’t finished higher than 18th.
As a group, we have taken our licks through the first 5 races. Yesterday was the best car I’ve had all year & me getting into the wall at the start of stage 2 ended our day. Beyond frustrated at myself, but we all woke up today with another opportunity!— Daniel Hemric (@DanielHemric) March 18, 2019
Challenge accepted 👊
After finishing 31st because of contact with the wall at Auto Club Speedway, Hemric exited the car to a greeting from his wife.
“She looked me straight in the eye and said, ‘You screwed up, 100 percent,’” he said. “She was right. I just appreciate how real she is with me. Over time people will see that, she’s extremely passionate about it. It’s cool to find that person you can share that with and know that she has a better appreciation for it than most ever will. Very cool dynamic we can share together, and it’s cool to have her on my side.”
Kenzie Hemric, 27, made 44 starts in the K&N Series from 2013-15 with a career-best second at Iowa Speedway on Aug. 1, 2014. Daniel Hemric said there was never “a definite talk” about how to handle being a racing couple because Kenzie’s opportunities began to dry up as Daniel began racing full time in the truck series.
“The timing just didn’t work out,” Daniel said. “It took until two years ago, right before we got married. By then I’d gotten the Xfinity contract. Not that’s what it’s about, but we knew so much more time would be dedicated to what I had going on, and it was going to take all of both of our time to do it 100%. At the time, her Late Model stuff was great but to put in the effort in that I felt I owed her, it would take away from one or the other, so we made the decision that she would come and support me full time.”
There is a Super Late Model in the Hemrics’ garage that still might be put to use for Kenzie in the Snowball Derby or a local race but probably just for fun and not as a jump-start on her career.
“We decided fortunately for one of us, and for both of us, that we’re getting this opportunity,” Daniel said. “But we don’t look at it as, ‘You made, it and I didn’t.’ We did it together because when I say literally has been there from the beginning. She’s seen that side of Daniel Hemric to where it’s at now. She fully gets it. We just do it together.”
During the podcast, Daniel Hemric also discusses:
--The numerous breaks he caught to reach the Cup Series without many connections;
--His life-changing Legends Million victory and the amusing aftermath of siphoning gasoline from his winning car and sleeping at a Steak N Shake;
--His friendships with Bubba Wallace, Ryan Blaney and other up and comers in Cup;
--His Kannapolis, North Carolina, upbringing and the parallels to Dale Earnhardt.