PENSACOLA, FL :: Despite claiming estate among the front-running cars for a significant portion of the day, Daniel Hemric found his No. 98 machine rounding out the 24th position in the Snowball Derby when all was said and done.

Hemric’s Derby attempt ended in the same fashion as a handful of other major contenders in Sunday’s race — in other words, not as expected for the former Southern Super Series (SSS) champion.

“It just wasn’t meant to be,” Hemric said. “We just kept on getting caught up in other people’s stuff and [being in the] wrong lanes on the restart — it just wasn’t our day.”

Beginning the day in the 8th position, Hemric managed to drive through the top cars and remain a mainstay near the front of the field for more of the race than not. But adversity on pit road presented a continual problem for Hemric, eventually becoming a detriment to what looked to be a good run for the Carswell Motorsports team.

“[The car] was really good, especially when the sun was out,” Hemric said. “I really thought we were just going to get better as the sun went down, but we struggled a little bit on pit road. It kind of put us back in track position to where we didn’t want to be, racing with some of the guys we were [racing with].”

Unfavorable racing positions by the hand of pit road wasn’t the only thing that plagued Hemric and company, however. Though the driver felt like he “could race for second or third,” troubles under a long green-flag run near the end of the race made that goal into a tough feat for Hemric.

“Halfway though that last long green-flag run, I felt like we had a little issue with the rear end,” Hemric said. “We started losing a lot of forward bite. At that point, the 8 [of John Hunter Nemechek] was the class of the field.”

While running near the front of the field and closely behind eventual winner Nemechek near the end of the race, pit road struck again. Hemric’s pit stop during a late caution set the driver back to eighth for what looked as if it could be the last restart of the day with 10 laps to go — but Hemric himself would be involved in what would be cause of the actual final yellow flag: a wreck with fellow SSS competitor Donnie Wilson.

“From [falling back on the final pit stop], it kind of snowballed,” Hemric said. “We just slowly but surely got caught up in some other people’s stuff.

“You know, every time there’s a caution flag, everybody gets a little glimmer of hope — which is probably what caused half of the madness there at the end.”

While Hemric believed he could have made it through the late madness to contend for the win, the driver admitted that “nobody could run with [Nemechek]” at the end of the race, congratulating the No. 8 team on its accomplishment.

“Congratulations to them, those guys who work really hard with the program,” Hemric said. “Man, just — [Five Flags Speedway] is just tough on me. But I still look forward to coming out next year.”

The full post-race video interview with Daniel Hemric can be viewed below: