How Hendrick saved Stewart-Haas from flooded cars at NASCAR’s All Star Race

This could have gone very poorly without Cliff Daniel's quick thinking

NASCAR: Ambetter Health 400
Credit: David Yeazell-USA TODAY Sports

Rodney Childers was driving back to North Wilkesboro Speedway on Saturday afternoon, just to be a fan, when he got the phone call from Hendrick Motorsports No. 5 crew chief Cliff Daniels that all four Stewart-Haas Racing cars were at risk of being flooded.

Five inches of rain fell in two hours, and combined with a blocked drainage pipe, the south end of the race track pooled several feet of water.

All four Stewart-Haas cars were in The All Star Open, meaning they didn’t have to be at the track for competition reasons until Sunday afternoon and there was no way to predict what eventually happened with a really severe storm.

“We’re at the bottom of a 100-foot dip from Turn 3 to Turn 1 and it was like a river coming down this way, and there’s only one drain and it got clogged up,” Childers told Sportsnaut on Sunday afternoon.

Fortunately, Daniels and his team sprang into action.

“It started as like an aggressive rain,” Daniels told Sportsnaut. “So we just put on our jackets and went about our process. Then … it went from like zero to one hundred within a minute. Chairs and tents start blowing around, and then water starts to rise up the stairs of the NASCAR trailer. It circuits out their lift gate and that starts to fall.

“The water is now building up over the pit wall, and that’s where the picture I took was taken, and no one has service here. I’m trying to call Rodney, Drew (Blickensderfer) and (Richard) Boswell. I finally get a hold of Rodney and I say, ‘hey, we’re starting to take on water, do I have permission to move your stuff?’

“At the same time, once I get signal enough to get through to Rodney, my guys are like, ‘we’re just going to do it anyway.’ They’re running out of time. NASCAR officials were with us the whole time. We had to get their access codes so we could turn off the generators so they didn’t short out.

“Finally, once the rain is almost done, we realized that no one had crash wrapped their cars, to seal the windows and seams, so we unwrapped their cars alongside the NASCAR officials, got it crash wrapped and loaded up.”

Childers expressed a tremendous amount of gratitude for his friend, Daniels, who he has always admired but had that sentiment validated this weekend.

“I was on the way up, the truck race went under red, so I looked at my phone and said to myself, there was no reason to keep driving because the heat races were not going to happen,” Childers said. “That’s when Cliff gets a hold of me…”

Childers imitated a stressed high pitch sound.


“I said, ‘of course you do,’ and then he said (again in the same pitch) ‘OKAY, ITS BAD!’

Childers said the Hendrick 5 team ‘have more goodies in their hauler than they know what to do with,’ meaning that they were showered with gifts this morning.

Literally every driver, and every crew member stopped by the 5 garage area on Sunday morning just to thank Daniels and his crew. Noah Gragson specifically walked around to each No. 5 crew member, said ‘thank you,’ and shook their hands.

Blickensderfer said no one was ever nervous but also expressed gratitude.

“NASCAR called us and gave us a heads up too,” Blickensderfer said. “Richard Boswell and I got in our trucks and they met us here at 7:30 and let us drive right on in and drain our cars. They weren’t bad. Some water got in from the car covers and onto the floorboard.

“NASCAR let us take the seat covers out and drain water out of our rocker boxes. They let our engine guys come in to turn the engines over and make sure everything was dry and good. It was so we’re good to go.”

And Daniels also wanted fans to understand that Stewart-Haas wasn’t being negligent. They had no reason to be at the track and no one could have predicted that kind of storm and drainage block combination.

“For the record, because I saw some of the comments made, none of the open teams were here and they shouldn’t have been,” he said. “There was no miss from anyone at Stewart-Haas. That was just the way the schedule was.

“Rodney was coming to watch the race. His team wasn’t scheduled to be here and he didn’t have to be here. When things started to get dramatic, it was time to help out.

“I am really proud of my guys for running over there, and knowing it was the right thing to do, and making sure they didn’t have a problem.”

Matt Weaver is a Motorsports Insider for Sportsnaut. Follow him on Twitter.

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