Daniels, 31, replaces Kevin Meendering,
effective immediately, and will guide the No. 48 team this
weekend at Watkins Glen International. Daniels had been working
in Hendrick's competition systems group before rejoining the No.
48 team as race engineer for the June event at Sonoma Raceway.
Meendering, who took over as Johnson's crew chief this year
after longtime pit boss Chad Knaus moved to William Byron's car,
will remain with Hendrick Motorsports in a senior competition
"We have great confidence in Cliff's ability to win races with
Jimmie and the team," said team 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."
A seven-time champion at NASCAR's highest level, Johnson hasn't
won a race since June 2017 at Dover International Speedway. He
is currently 17th in the series standings, 12 points outside the
cut line for the playoffs with five events left in the regular
Two of Johnson's teammates, Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman,
already have qualified for the postseason with victories this
year. Byron is 12th in the standings, 62 points ahead of the
Daniels earned his engineering degree from North Carolina at
Charlotte and served for two years as race engineer for Tony
Stewart at Stewart-Haas Racing (2013-2014) before moving to
Hendrick Motorsports. A former driver, Daniels raced late models
at short tracks in Virginia before embarking on his career as an
"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."
Daniels bring an air of confidence to his new role.
"We have an opportunity to win an eighth championship and a lot
more races with Jimmie," Daniels said. "I'm proud to be in this
position and have total faith in the team and our ability to
perform at the level everyone expects.
"We have the best driver, the best organization and the best
leadership, so everything we need to be successful is in place.
It's always been my goal to become a crew chief, and I'm
thankful to Mr. Hendrick for his confidence."
--By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service. Special to Field Level
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