AUSTIN, Texas (May 21, 2021) – Joe Gibbs Racing driver Daniel Hemric was made available to media via videoconference prior to the Circuit of the Americas race earlier today:
DANIEL HEMRIC, No. 18 Poppy Bank Toyota Supra, Joe Gibbs Racing
What happened with the power steering issue and was it fixed by the end of the session?
“It was fixed fairly immediately once they realized what had happened. Honestly, Dave Rogers (crew chief) and I haven’t even discussed it. They handled it, fixed it and it was good to go for my next turn out of the garage. I’m sure when they get back to the shop we’ll figure out what happened. Quick fix on their part to at least maximize our time after that.”
Is there any concern with the turns and the bumps that things can get knocked out more here than other road courses?
“I wouldn’t say any more here than other road courses. The turtles and what not have been the same height at the other race tracks where we’ve seen them. We all know the damage they can do and I guess the positioning of where you need to put your car to cross them correctly. Just like any kind of road course racing or short track racing, it’s tough on equipment. It’s a battle of attrition, car placement and managing your stuff from your tires to equipment to curb placement. I don’t think it’s any more of an issue here than anywhere else, but something for sure that we all have to keep an eye on.”
What have you done to improve your road racing skills?
“Short of just running Legends cars and what not during the Winter Heat Series at Charlotte Motor Speedway, there is not a whole lot of road course background for me. From the time I ran a truck for the first time on a road course in 2015, I think we were able to put together many years in the top-five when I had a chance to run road course stuff and that transferred immediately to the Xfinity Series. For whatever reason, this always felt good and comfortable. I think road course racing kind of brings out the short track racer in all of us. You’re chasing mechanical grip, you’re chasing all the things that you have to do to make speed and make longevity and it makes you really be precise. I’ve just always enjoyed the grind and the challenge of road course racing. As far as prepping for these places, it’s just really utilizing the tools we have within TRD and what the Toyota Racing family provides us. Everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing has so many tools to utilize and as us drivers know, being in the simulator as much as we are, every event but we really circle the road courses because there’s a lot we can work on ourselves as the driver. Just been trying to put that to use the best we can and happy with how far I was able to come from just running sim laps here to see the gains and now come here and see how close our stuff was is pretty rewarding.”
Do you feel like this is a driver’s road course?
“For me, I just feel like I’m still learning every corner. I don’t really know how to evaluate that question yet. I think like all road courses, there’s times where aggression is rewarded and there’s times that it hurts you. I think it’s trying to figure out where those spots are around here at COTA. I think I overstepped both sides of them, I was too conservative on a couple corners, too aggressive a couple corners and vice versa. I think you will see guys who typically run good on old, worn out surfaces whether it be mile-and-a-halves or short tracks, you’re going to see those guys probably prevail here just from a mechanical grip standpoint. I think Dave Rogers (crew chief) and my guys have brought a really good Poppy Bank Toyota Supra. We’ll see. To be seen.”
What was expected or unexpected when you got on the track for practice?
“A lot of what we’ve seen inside the TRD sim is very spot on from tire grip, that’s just something you’re making and you think this feels right and you’re trying to model that so you’re getting good data. If you put bad data in then you get bad data out so I’m very proud of the development we all did. I think we all had a hand as drivers in steering the ship in the right direction in that process. As far as getting here, there are some spots where we’re putting the race cars that we didn’t think we would. I also need to go back and watch practice back, but I don’t want to give away exactly the spots I’m talking about, but for sure not utilizing some of the race track like I thought we would. I think that’s just a matter of stock cars versus ground clearance and what we have and don’t have. Just trying to maximize those things. I’m sure everyone will be studying tonight and studying the data we were able to achieve there in that short amount of time. Pretty cool to see how close it all was.”
Can you describe one turn that surprised you?
“For me, I’ve been fortunate to do this for a while now and you don’t get a ton of sense of speed except at a few select tracks and there was something about when we put our second set of tires on here today and figured out where that max braking zone was into turn one, I think it’s 100 or 150 feet of elevation uphill. A little bit like Sonoma, turn one as far as the elevation or how much you can use that hill to slow you down. Driving to the point of a little bit of flutter in your belly of, ‘Oh, this is my spot,’ and then you hit the brakes. That’s something you don’t experience every week. That’s a cool visual getting into turn one and then all of the sudden the race track crowns away and the track goes left and you feel like you missed it every time. A lot going on and for sure going to be an exciting spot-on restarts.”
What were your first impressions of COTA?
“For me, I was fortunate enough to come out here and do the press release with Toyota and here at COTA to announce them as the official pace car and the official sponsor of the weekend. So I had a chance to at least cruise around the track and see some things, but a lot of the markers and braking zones and signage have all changed since I was here that day a couple weeks ago. When I first rolled on, it was taking notice of that. Instead of having 350, 300, 250 braking marks, now they’re six, five, four, three, two, one. That was different. Claire (B. Lang) asked earlier about the sim and that’s something that we didn’t have in sim, it was different. It’s good, it brings everybody back to a level playing field, but you for sure found yourself guessing, but the initial thoughts were definitely just checking all those markers out and refamiliarize yourself with a new place and then just trying to go out and make speed.”
Toyota Racing PR