Daniels says No. 5 team needs to keep evolving ‘pretty quick’

Kyle Larson and the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports team got the job done last weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, but the team is concerned its current form won’t be good enough going forward.

“I think one advantage that we probably have right now is just the continuity of what we know of our car,” Larson’s crew chief Cliff Daniels said. “To be honest, I thought the Toyota’s pace was pretty impressive… like, the 45 (Tyler Reddick) was really good. Just knowing that their car is different, I would imagine the balance and some of the handling characteristics are a little bit different just from an aero standpoint. So, the continuity of our stuff and the depth of our notes, I think, was really helpful for (Sunday).”

Larson beat Reddick to the finish in the Pennzoil 400, however, Reddick was able to chase him down over the final 10 laps. Even though Larson used the air to his advantage, he admitted Reddick was better than him at the end of the race and would have found a way to make the winning pass if there had been more time.


The third different winner in three races, Larson also kept Chevrolet undefeated in the Cup Series. Chevrolet is the only manufacturer that didn’t change its body style coming into the season.

“We’re going to have to keep evolving pretty quick because the more they start to get their stuff figured out, the gap is going to get closed,” Daniels continued. “I know that win both stages and win the race, you would say we had the dominant day, but there were some cars that were pretty tough right there with us, and at the end of long runs, the 45 was there every time. I think the gap is actually tighter than what it may look on paper.”

Chevrolet has won all three races, but Ford has shown single-car speed by having a driver on the pole for all three events. Las Vegas was the first traditional intermediate race, with Larson (Chevy) beating Reddick (Toyota) and Ryan Blaney (Ford). Larson was one of three Chevrolets in the top 10, just as Ford had three drivers in the top 10. Toyota had four.

Larson’s victory was the second for him in the last three Las Vegas races. During those three races, Larson led 377 laps, claimed four of the six stages, and finished second in the race he didn’t win.

Daniels called it “a relief” to again show their speed and strength at Las Vegas. But he also reiterated the need to find more for the rest of the season.

“It’s really fun to be a part of with all the folks at Chevrolet right now,” Daniels said. “We don’t have a new submission, and we know the other OEMs do. And everyone at Chevrolet, everyone at Hendrick Motorsports, our sense of urgency is there. We know that we’ve got to keep evolving … just the continuity of our stuff and keep understanding our stuff better.

“We still have to push. We still made setup changes from the fall to here because we didn’t quite have the long-run pace that some other guys had in the fall. I would still argue we needed a little bit more (Sunday). We’ve got to keep evolving and we’ve got to keep pushing.”

Story originally appeared on Racer