Sitting 12 points back of the final playoff spot with just five races remaining in NASCAR’s regular season, every moment matters for seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson.
Hendrick Motorsports decided a change atop the pit box could be what this team needs to kick it into gear. After just 21 races, Kevin Meendering has been replaced as Johnson’s crew chief by Cliff Daniels.
Previously serving as a race engineer, the move is a step up for Daniels. Meendering will remain with Hendrick Motorsports in a senior competition role.
“We have to act now,” Johnson told NASCAR.com. “We don’t have any time to waste.”
While Sunday’s Go Bowling at the Glen at Watkins Glen International will be Daniels’ first race as a crew chief, he and Johnson do have some familiarity with one another.
Daniels was a race engineer under Chad Knaus during Johnson’s 2016 championship season. Knaus was moved to the No. 24 team with William Byron prior to the 2019 season. In their 17 seasons (2002-18) together, Johnson and Knaus won seven championships, including five straight from 2006-10.
This built-in familiarity should help the No. 48 team, but they need to hit the ground running. Currently on the wrong side of the playoff cutline, Johnson has three top-five finishes and an average finish of 15.095 in 2019.
Amid a career-long winless streak, a trip to Watkins Glen probably wasn’t exactly what Johnson was looking for. In 17 starts at the road course, he has yet to record a win and has an average finish of 17.059.
The Go Bowling at the Glen will take place at 3:00PM ET on Sunday, August 4. You can catch the action on NBCSN.
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