By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
On Monday, Hendrick Motorsports made a surprising switching involving Jimmie Johnson’s team. Cliff Daniels was named the new crew chief for the multi-time champion.
The 31-year-old replaces Kevin Meendering, who became the team’s crew chief following the conclusion of the 2018 season. He will remain with the team in a senior competition role.
“We have great confidence in Cliff’s ability to win races with Jimmie and the team,” said Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick. “He’s a natural leader and tremendously talented from both a technical and communication standpoint. Cliff’s familiarity with Jimmie and the No. 48 team culture will benefit us a ton. He will bring the spark that’s been our missing ingredient.”
Daniels, who was a member of Johnson’s 2016 championship team, as a race engineer, takes over his role this weekend at Watkins Glen International in New York.
Under Meendering, the 43-year-old Johnson has just one pole. He also has eight Top 10 finishes, including three Top 5 finishes.
However, he is 12 points shy of the playoff cut line. Johnson is presently in the 17th place in the standings.
“Cliff has really shined since he came back to the ‘48,’” Johnson said. “When he returned, there was an immediate change in the team dynamic that all of us felt. We’ve worked together for a long time, have a ton of mutual respect and a shared vision. I have no doubt the strong connection and working relationship is going to pay dividends right away.
“I’m so grateful to Kevin. He’s a truly awesome person who I think very, very highly of. I’m looking forward to continuing to work with him in his new role. He’s a brilliant guy and will make all of us better.”