Jimmie Johnson changes crew chief as clock ticks on Cup Series playoffs

Jimmie Johnson has to make a move on the track if he wants to get his No. 48 Chevy in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. But first, he’s making a change in the pits by promoting race engineer Cliff Daniels to crew chief to replace Kevin Meendering.

“We have to act now is the bottom line,” Johnson told NASCAR.com. “We don’t have any time to waste.”

With five races remaining in the regular season, Johnson is 17th in points and 12 points behind Ryan Newman and Clint Bowyer.

Johnson, 43, had back-to-back top-four finishes at Chicagoland (third) and Daytona (fourth) on June 30 and July 7, but followed those races with consecutive 30th-place finishes at Kentucky and New Hampshire before improving to 15th at Pocono last weekend.

Though Johnson acknowledged the decision to move Daniels in Meendering post after 21 races was “tricky,” he feels Daniels, a 31-year-old with now-crew chief experience, will bring a spark to the No. 48 team.

“In this instance, with Cliff coming back at Sonoma (in June), there was just such a spark that he brought,” Johnson said. “As the weeks went on, I noticed, outside people noticed, I think our fans have even noticed. Management even noticed and it was something we felt like we need to pursue to give ourselves the best chance to make the playoffs and have a shot at eight this year.”

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Meendering will now play a senior competition role within the organization.

The Monster Energy series moves to Watkins Glen International this weekend.

NASCAR points standings 2019

Below are the new standings entering the Go Bowling at The Glen race at Watkins Glen International. Winners are in bold and guaranteed a playoff spot.

Rank Driver Wins Points
No. 1 Joey Logano 2 824
No. 2 Kyle Busch 4 818
No. 3 Kevin Harvick 1 739
No. 4 Denny Hamlin 3 722
No. 5 Martin Truex Jr. 4 701
No. 6 Brad Keselowski 3 695
No. 7 Kurt Busch 1 650
No. 8 Chase Elliott 1 616
No. 9 Aric Almirola 614
No. 10 Ryan Blaney 599
No. 11 Alex Bowman 1 596
No. 12 William Byron 582
No. 13 Erik Jones 559
No. 14 Kyle Larson 557
No. 15 Clint Bowyer 532
No. 16 Ryan Newman 532
No. 17 Jimmie Johnson 520
No. 18 Daniel Suarez 501
No. 19 Paul Menard 464
No. 20 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 444
No. 21 Chris Buescher 439
No. 22 Austin Dillon 404
No. 23 Ty Dillon 350
No. 24 Matt DiBenedetto 349
No. 25 Daniel Hemric 339
No. 26 Ryan Preece 268
No. 27 Michael McDowell 266
No. 28 Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. 262
No. 29 Corey Lajoie 247
No. 30 David Ragan 220
No. 31 Matt Tifft 218
No. 32 Reed Sorenson 66
No. 33 Quin Houff 58
No. 34 J.J. Yeley 29
No. 35 Jamie McMurray 19
No. 36 Andy Seuss 9
No. 37 Austin Theriault 5
No. 38 Stanton Barrett 2
No. 39 Casey Mears 1
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