championships in eight years and 24 of
the 100 races run in the history of the
Chase for the Sprint Cup?
Well, here are some specifics.
Over the course of a three-hour Cup race,
lots of things change. The weather, track
conditions, traffic, fuel load — all are factors
that affect how the car runs. By providing
accurate, precise feedback all race long to
Knaus, Johnson helps his crew chief tune
the car as the race goes on.
“He’s very into what it is we’re doing,”
Knaus says of Johnson. “He’s very studious,
very intuitive of what’s happening around
him, what’s going on when we’re testing
or racing. He feeds us great information.”
Well, duh. Hendrick Motorsports has
deeper pockets than any team in the
sport, no question about it. Those deep
pockets allow the team to attract the
brightest minds, the guys driven to win.
The fact that Knaus and Johnson have
worked together since 2002 is a huge
advantage, too. And with the talent pool
at Hendrick, Knaus can push people to
the limit and constantly cycle in fresh,
eager young crewmen. In fact, the only
enny Hamlin shook his head and
smiled. After a miserable season, Hamlin
finally won his first and only race of the
2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
campaign, capturing the Ford EcoBoost
400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. But
Hamlin was a mere footnote to the real
story – Jimmie Johnson clinching his
sixth Cup title in eight years.
“Unfortunately, we’re racing during
the Jimmie Johnson era,” Hamlin said,
a wistful tone in his voice. “We’re just
unlucky in that sense. Being out there
and racing with him, I can say that I
think he’s the best that there ever was.
He’s racing against competition that is
tougher than this sport’s ever seen.
The guy’s just good.”
Johnson’s brilliant crew chief at
Hendrick Motorsports, Chad Knaus,
knows what he’s got in Johnson.
“He can do things with a racecar
that most mortals can’t,” says Knaus.
“Let’s just be straight with it – he’s pretty
spectacular. I mean, he really, really is.”
But there are plenty of very good and
a few certifiably great drivers out there.
So what makes the difference with the
driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet? What
accounts for Johnson’s astonishing
success, winning six Sprint Cup Series
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2013 NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
Jimmie Johnson towers over the modern
NASCAR scene, and has done for a decade.
(BELOW) Matt Kenseth ( 20) scored seven
wins in 2013, yet became merely another
victim of the No. 48 Hendrick Chevy sword.