“A Little Bit Off” – Hendrick Motorsports Crew Chief Composed a Shell-Shocked Kyle Larson After Being Stuck

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DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA – AUGUST 26: Kyle Larson, driver of the #5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet, greets fans as he walks onstage during driver intros prior to the NASCAR Cup Series Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway on August 26, 2023 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
With Hendrick Motorsports icons Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman out of the driver’s championship in the playoffs, Rick Hendrick perhaps had reverted significant attention toward the owner’s championship. However, the driver of his #5 Chevrolet showed his boss that they are called the most versatile team for a reason. In the Southern 500, Kyle Larson proved that even Darlington Raceway was not tough for him to tame at all.
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However, when 40 cars run 367 laps of pure madness over a distance of 500 miles, the win falls to the hands of the most level-headed and focused individual. Amongst the mayhem, focus does not just appear out of thin air. And in the case of Larson, his crew chief played a major role in taming his mind.
An able leader; Cliff Daniels came over to the radio and saved Larson’s day
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Kyle Larson bagged his first career win in a playoff opening race at the “Lady in Black” and with that made a valorous start to the playoff contention. Regardless of how he performs at Kansas or even at Bristol, this victory guaranteed the 2021 Cup Series champion his spot in the round of 12s. And he couldn’t have been happier.
However, this victory did not come as easy as it looked. When you make the mistake of getting stuck in the neutral gear and hitting the wall, making a comeback from it is challenging indeed. But Kyle Larson succeeded. And he was not alone.
A reporter asked Cliff Daniels exactly what the latter had told Kyle Larson that helped the HMS in his rebound. Daniels, however, failed to recall his exact words. But he shed light on the 31-year-old’s journey of bringing back the odds to his favor.
“At that point of the race…there was going to be no retreating from what that was going to do to our car and the balance of our car being a little bit off from there,” said Daniels, “So it was one of those things you just had to accept it and move forward and keep making adjustments around that.”
“He did a good job to refocus his mind and not get discouraged, and obviously did a great job the last 30 or 40 laps,” he added with clear admiration in his voice.
Kyle Larson claimed that his crew chief was good for his mind
Kyle Larson persevered through a 4-plus-hour-long race that featured eight yellow flags, a light power outage, and 13 lead shifts with 13 different leaders. He remained conspicuous throughout the last 55 laps of the race and never looked back after that. While he performed a burnout, HMS fans, and the number 5 team cheered at the top of their voices.
After coming out of his car through the window with his fists directed at the sky, Kyle embraced his crew chief. A NASCAR reporter took his chance to walk up to the Speedster and asked the latter to say a few words about this cherished victory.
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Kyle Larson revealed that he never thought that advancing from 18th to 3rd place, right in Stage 1 was physically possible. But he did that. Larson exclaimed, “From start to finish, Yo… race car was really good when the sun was out. Just had to work on it.”
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In playoff contention, one cannot afford to make mistakes. However, Larson made one. What’s more; he fought his way through the adversities and aced the race. He admitted, “I messed up once and it got hung in neutral and I slid and hit the wall and I think, bit the toe link a little bit. So, was kind of a struggle from there…definitely had to fight it more than I was earlier but we kept our heads in the game.”
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He concluded by expressing his heartfelt gratitude towards Cliff Daniels.
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“This race is all about keeping your head in it. Having a leader like Cliff is good for my mind. Just proud of the team,” he added, with eyes gleaming with rays of hope.

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