MOBILE, Ala. -- The distant future of stock car racing was on display Saturday night as Daniel Hemric and John Hunter Nemechek raced side-by-side for most of the final seven laps of the Great Race 125 at Mobile International Speedway.
The duo swapped the top spot on several occasions in the closing laps but at the end, it was Daniel Hemric scoring his second-consecutive Series win and second in as many days, sweeping the Gulf Coast.
Hemric was named the winner of Friday's Pepsi Max 125 following Augie Grill's disqualification for an improper fuel mixture discovered during post-race technical inspection. As a result, Hemric spoke all day Saturday about wanting to win the right way (crossing the line first) but Nemechek nearly stood between him and that desire.
"Yesterday, we may not have deserved it, but today I can promise you we did," Hemric said. "That's all I had. The whole team never gave up. I cannot thank (team owners) Jake and Deanna Carswell enough for believing in me and the whole team for having faith. That's the team motto -- never give up."
If not for a twist of fate, neither young prospect would likely have contended for the win. A mid-race invert had placed championship leader Bubba Pollard on the point and he checked out on the lap 75 reset.
And with a six second lead on lap 109, he lost his engine and was forced to retire from the race.
With Pollard eliminated, Nemechek and Hemric would restart on the front row but Hemric taking the lead into turn one. But Nemechek would storm right back a lap later and retake the lead, holding it until seven to go, when the excitement really ramped up.
Hemric got to Nemechek's back bumper and took the point in the center of turns one and two. The pair swapped the lead twice with five laps to go and would remain side-by-side until taking the white flag. This was the moment Hemric ultimately cleared Nemechek off of turn four, winning by two car-lengths.
"It's really emotional," Hemric said. "It's one of the biggest wins of my career. These are the best people to race against, these guys in the Deep South. They don't mess around. They've been doing this a long time.
"It took us a couple races to get into the habits of what it took and what the tires were like but nobody ever gave up. It feels good to be in victory lane, holding the checkered flag and to do a back flip down here in the Deep South."
Chris Davidson crossed beneath the checkered flag in third, but was disqualified in post-race technical inspection for unapproved fuel -- just as Grill was on Friday night.
The results of the entire weekend have drastically altered the championship picture. Augie Grill was disqualified on Friday and decided to not race on Saturday. And Pollard, the championship leader recorded a DNF on Saturday.
As a result, Hemric now leads the standings (unofficially) by 21 points over Pollard with Nemechek lurking just behind them both. At the halfway point of the season, the championship is anyone's game.
The next race for the Southern Super Series comes on Thursday, July 4 with the running of the Slack Auto Parts World Crown 300 at Jefferson, Georgia's Gresham Motorsports Park.
The complete results can be found below:
- Daniel Hemric
- John Hunter Nemechek
- Hunter Robbins
- Casey Smith
- Donnie Wilson
- DJ VanderLey
- Mason Massey
- Dennis Schoenfeld
- Mike Garvey
- Chet Morrison
- Nathan Davis
- Allen Karnes
- Roger Reuse
- Bubba Pollard
- Logan Boyett
- Bobby Knox, Jr.
- Josh Bragg
- Rusty Sanford
- Chris Davidson (DQd - Fuel)
A recap podcast was recorded from the Speedway by the author on Saturday night and that link has been provided below.
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