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Staying calm key to Johnson's success
|Speed Mail Steve|
On the other side of the coin, that race team deserves a lot of credit. We're very quick to single out Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus, but all of them are superstars. I don't know if I've ever seen a team adapt to a particular race or situation as well as the No. 48 team. They never seem to panic. When Johnson led 334 of 400 laps in the 2004 Coca-Cola 600, I worked their pits for NASCAR on FOX. They made adjustments to the car on every single pit stop. You might sit back and say, "Wow, he led over 300 laps. He just had the dominant race car." No, they had a good race car, but they had a game plan. Knaus and his engine tuner had even factored in the barometric pressure for how the engine was going to react later in the race. And they adjusted on every single stop. It wasn't just, "Let's put on four tires, get as much gas as we can and go." They adjusted that race car, and he had to come through traffic a couple of times. If you just look at it on paper, he led over 300 laps and dominated, but it wasn't easy. They just make it look easy. Johnson is so grounded and unpretentious, and he has the uncanny ability to adapt to the racetrack or the situation. That's why he defended his Nextel Cup Series championship.
NASCAR on FOX and SPEED host and reporter Steve Byrnes has covered racing for more than 20 years.