The pep talk that took the No. 5 back to victory lane


 Cliff Daniels essentially gave his No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports team a kick in the ass before Sunday’s race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

No longer eligible for the championship, it was time to lay everything out on the table. To face the mistakes that played into their elimination in the Round of 12 and take a hard look at how many times they’ve been their own worst enemy. It happened in a pre-race gathering – driver Kyle Larson included – where Daniels gave an admittedly colorful speech.

“If you look at the 5 car throughout the course of the season, we’ve had great cars. So, on performance, we have not been down,” Daniels said. “It’s been execution. It’s execution from me, the guys on pit road, Kyle at times, and we’ve had so many fast cars that I’ve been getting frustrated showing up at the racetrack knowing that we’re going to have another fast car and even having a sliver of doubt of our execution – because I know that our team when we’re at our full potential, we have a lot of potential.”

“It means a lot to everybody at Hendrick Motorsports who have been giving us fast race cars all year long. I know it means a lot to Mr. H. I don’t think it quite sank into him yet when we were talking about it in Victory Lane that we were locked into the owner’s deal in Phoenix. But yeah, the Roval was disappointing to get knocked out of the driver championship. But to have the reflection on the team be that we’re still in it, we’ve had a very character-building year, and we’ve had to be tough through the adversity and learn from our mistakes to still be in it and have a lot is pretty special.”

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