Cliff Daniels was impressed with Kyle Larson’s ability to deal with traffic at Sonoma Raceway on Sunday.
The NASCAR Cup Series race at Sonoma was down to the quickest car on the track as well as right strategy calls. The no.5 crew went on to have both, which resulted in Larson winning his third race in the 2021 campaign. The crew chief Daniels spoke about the race-winning strategy.
“Stage one was pretty set. I think we executed that basically how we planned to. Didn’t know how good our car was going to be. Haven’t been here before with Kyle. It’s been a couple years since we’ve been here anyways. It’s no secret the last handful of trips here, the Hendrick cars, Chevrolets as a whole, we just haven’t been as good as we need to be,” he said.
“We were hoping we could stay up front and get stage points in stage one. We were prepared to shorten the stage like a lot of guys did in stage two. Once we realized we had a really fast car that could pass, Kyle was doing such a good job with it, it allowed us to gamble a little to try to get another stage winning, stage points, which luckily we did.”
“Then having a tire advantage on a handful ahead of us only by a few laps, but then a good chunk at the front of the field we had more than a handful of laps of tire advantage. Looking at that, assuming we could get through with clean tires and clean fenders, we thought stage three could play out eventually and work out okay for us.”
Larson found himself in the middle of the pack several times throughout the race, but was able to pass all the cars quickly. Daniels was amazed at his skills as well as performance in the final laps.
“I did not expect us to get back to the front that quick. That just shows how hard Kyle was able to drive the car. He’s just a master in traffic. To see that play out was really cool,” he commented.
“Once we got up front, from my perspective, it’s a little nerve-wracking because you know you have a fast car, there were still a lot of laps left. We didn’t want to abuse our tires or push too hard. Even the way the race played out at the end, he had three restarts that he had to nail. He nailed them perfect, so really cool.”