No weakness: Johnson, Knaus turn it around for big win
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe's Patriotic Chevrolet, and his crew chief, Chad Knaus, celebrate in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 25, 2014 in Charlotte, N.C.
It really is amazing what a difference a week makes, isn’t it? During the Sprint All-Star Race, the No. 48 was less than stellar. At the end of the night the best they could muster was an also-ran sixth place. All of that changed last week. They blew everybody away by winning the pole plus dominating and winning the Coca-Cola 600.
I think Chad Knaus summed it up the best. He said they are quick learners and the All-Star event showed them a lot of things they needed to do different to prepare for the 600. He also said they learned a ton of things they didn’t need to do, and sometimes those lessons are equally as important.
Now, what is really interesting in this case is this was somewhat a case of role-reversal. In the past we’ve seen them come out and dominate the Sprint All-Star Race, but then the very next week stumble all over themselves in the Coke 600. I still believe with all my heart that they’ve been ever so close of where they need to be this season, and it wasn’t until Sunday night that they got there.
Article continues below ...
They really had no weakness in Sunday’s race. Their strategy was good. Their car, obviously, was very good across the board in practice, qualifying and where it matters the most, in the race. Also for once this season ‘Lady Luck’ was on their side. She hasn’t always been riding with them in 2014, but Sunday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway, she definitely was.
Chad was also very quick to share the glory with teammates Kasey Kahne and crew chief Kenny Francis. Chad said they relied very heavily on the notes those two had. While it’s no lie that Kasey’s had a pretty dismal season to date, you can’t ignore how well that No. 5 car ran at Kansas, plus don’t forget that Kasey won Segments 2 and 3 two weeks ago in the Sprint All-Star Race.
As a whole, we also know that Hendrick Motorsports hasn’t been putting the wins up on the board in 2014 like we expected going into the season. Sure Dale Earnhardt won the Daytona 500, but after that a dry spell kicked in across the board. I think all the drivers and crew chiefs in all four camps were leaning on each other more than ever before to gets things moving in a positive direction.
It’s now definitely moving their way. After race 10 of our 2014 season they only had one win. Now, here we are and after race 12 and they have three wins by three of their four drivers.