Based on the results of Sunday's NASCAR Cup Series event at Martinsville Speedway, it looks like it was the perfect time to have Cliff Daniels return to his role as crew chief of the No. 5.
Scoring his 21st victory in the NASCAR Cup Series, Kyle Larson and Cliff Daniels used a bold two-tire strategy call to gain track position in the closing 50 laps of Sunday's NOCO 400 at Martinsville.
Contrary to his teammates at Hendrick Motorsports, Larson had been able to manage a running position inside the top-10 for the majority o the afternoon, but still needed that extra track position to challenge for the win.
The final caution of the afternoon, which was displayed for an incident with JJ Yeley in turn three, blew the door wide open, as far as potential strategy plays for drivers on the lead lap.
Larson was one of the several drivers that elected to take two tires, while four drivers decided that their best opportunity to win the race would be staying out.
The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion made quick work of Denny Hamlin, Aric Almirola and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., but had to put up a significant fight to make a pass on Joey Logano, who had the lead.
After a battle lasting upwards of five laps, Larson was able to run the No. 22 Ford Mustang up the track - with a bit of contact - finally clearing the defending champion on corner exit.
Leading the final 30 laps of Sunday's race, Larson was able to build a substantial lead over the final laps, winning the event by four seconds over Joey Logano, who barely held on for second.
Martin Truex, Jr. and Denny Hamlin held on for finished of third and fourth, each of which ended up being the first top-five on the season for the Joe Gibbs Racing drivers.
Chase Briscoe, racing again this weekend with a broken finger, posted a top-five result, after leading 100-plus laps throughout the event, much like his teammate Ryan Preece.
Aric Almirola earned a season-best sixth-place finish, while Ryan Blaney, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Bubba Wallace, and Chase Elliott recorded a top-10 finish.
Elliott, making his first appearance in a NASCAR Cup Series car since Auto Club, had a solid run in his first race back, running outside of the top-20 the entire event, before making a late rally to finish 10th.
Ryan Preece, the polesitter for Sunday's event, led the opening 135 laps of Sunday's 400-lap contest, before speeding on pit road, a penalty which cost him track position, which he could never earn back, finishing 15th.
Heading to Talladega Superspeedway, Christopher Bell maintains a five-point lead over Ross Chastain in the NASCAR Cup Series point standings, after breaking through with a victory last weekend at Bristol Dirt.
Kevin Harvick, Kyle Larson, and Martin Truex, Jr. complete the top-five in point standings as the series travels to the wildcard of Talladega Superspeedway.
Image Courtesy of Christopher Fisher, TobyChristie.com