jimmie johnson: one away from the legends
were a number of new parts.
And, oh, by the way, the new SS was
expected to contend for a championship
in its first year. No wonder Colon felt the
pressure when the teams showed up at
Daytona last February to kick off the
2013 season. No matter how much
testing gets done, the true proof of
concept can only be realized by racing.
As it turned out, the thousands of hours
of R&D, endless meetings and numerous
laps of track testing paid big dividends and
would continue to do so all year long.
Johnson’s Daytona 500 win would set the
tone for Chevrolet and for Johnson and
his Hendrick Motorsports team as well.
“When Jimmie Johnson won the Daytona
500, I really don’t know how to describe
how my whole body completely relaxed,”
says Colon, wide-eyed and nervously
laughing at the memory. “We went to the
pre-season Daytona test in January and
everybody was under pressure with the
hoods, with the parts. Were we going to
have enough parts for everybody? And
how are the cars going to react?”
It all came good at Daytona Speedweeks
the following month. “We won earlier in
the week – the Sprint Unlimited and a
Budweiser Duel with Kevin Harvick – but to
win that first points race (the Daytona 500),
that was a really big deal,” says Colon.
Once the car was on the track and
proven effective, two functions swung
into action: Chevrolet helped all its teams
advance their individual efforts while
keeping each individual team’s information
secure...and the Hendrick Motorsports
organization went to work on another title.
“We know we can’t do everything for
the teams; we have to figure out how to
help each one individually in ways that are
meaningful,” says Pat Suhy, NASCAR group
manager for Chevrolet Racing. “We work
that way with all of our key partner teams.
We do everything we can to complement
them and bring tools and technology they
don’t have in house to make cars go faster,
perform better and be more durable.”
Clearly, the tools and expertise are in
place at Chevrolet and Hendrick
Motorsports to win championships. But
still, Johnson, crew chief Chad Knaus and
the entire No. 48 crew were competing
against some serious opposition. Yet they
came out on top once again.
Part of it, of course, is the Chevrolet
connection. Part of it is the depth of
“We know we can’t do
everything for the teams;
we have to help each one in
ways that are meaningful”
(ABOVE LEFT) Gen- 6
Sprint Cup racecars
like Chevy’s SS were
conceived to look
more like their street
car cousins and to
provide even better
racing. With 2013
in the books, it’s
on both counts.
Behind every great
is a great crew
chief. For Jimmie
Chad Knaus, who’s
been with the
six-time Cup champ
since his 2002
Six wins for JJ
in the “regular”
season were backed
up by four from 10
in the Chase to earn
his second title. Matched Cale
streak of three
wasn’t done yet...
Resets the bar with
a fourth straight
title, thanks to a
victories from the
10 Chase races.
No. 6, courtesy of two wins and seven top- 5 finishes, puts
JJ one away from Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt.
Make that five
Just the one Chase
win, but seven
top- 5 finishes put
Johnson on top.