NASCAR Icon Chase Elliott Once Lost a Race to Daniel Hemric’s Wife

by Caitlin Berard
(Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)

Though it’s been a tough season for Cup Series champion Chase Elliott, he’s still a NASCAR legend. With more than 20 wins in his NASCAR career, the 26-year-old driver is tough to beat. Back in 2011, however, Chase Elliott not only lost a race but lost to Kenzie Ruston, the future Mrs. Daniel Hemric.

Ruston, now Kenzie Hemric, started her racing career as a young teenager, taking inspiration from her father, a retired dirt bike racer. At just 20 years old, she took two top-10 finishes in the ARCA Menards Series.

Two years after the impressive season, she started in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. Sadly, she was unsuccessful in her efforts to capture a checkered flag. She did, however, rack up a staggering 17 top-10 finishes.

Though she’s now a mother of one and retired from racing, Kenzie Hemric holds a unique accolade: she once defeated Cup Series superstar Chase Elliott. With just four laps to go in the 2011 Fall Brawl 100 Super Series race in the Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis, Kenzie took the lead position.

The expert maneuver put her ahead of not only Chase Elliott but her future husband Daniel Hemric and seven-time Cup Series winner Ryan Blaney as well. “That’s my claim to fame,” Kenzie Hemric said in an interview with NASCAR. “I beat all their butts.”

Kenzie Hemric and Chase Elliott Have Similar Race Strategies

Winning a NASCAR race requires a certain level of aggression. And sometimes, it means doing what you have to in order to win, even if it means spinning another driver out. In that respect, Kenzie Hemric and Chase Elliott are similar, as both have used that strategy to get ahead.

Darren Ruston, Kenzie Hemric’s father, recalled that in the 2011 Fall Brawl, Kenzie didn’t allow herself to be pushed aside. “She was running like fifth,” said Ruston. “(A driver) waved Daniel by, and then when she got to him, he raced her really hard. So, I went and found the pit crew, and we had a pretty good conversation. She’s screaming at me over the radio, ‘Dad, don’t say nothing. I’ll take care of it.’ About five laps later, she just spun the guy that was holding her up.”

At this year’s Cup Series race at COTA, Chase Elliott knocked Kyle Busch into a spin on Turn 12, sending the NASCAR veteran back to 28th place. The only difference is, Chase Elliott claims the maneuver was a mistake. “I messed up,” Elliott said. “I got crossed up in the braking zone and hit him. Obviously, we were racing for last and probably weren’t even racing for stage points and I think he knows me better than that. But yeah, that was completely on me… And my fault.”