Three down and more to go? Johnson, 48 team, might just be getting started
Before you think Jimmie Johnson, crew chief Chad Knaus, and owner Rick Hendrick are ready to rest on their three-peat laurels, realize that's not what makes this team tick, writes Ed Hinton.
- Hendrick isn't worried about the No. 48 group."I know how bad both of these guys want it," Hendrick said. "I know what they go through when I watch them in comparison to other drivers and crew chiefs. "I've never seen anyone, in my 25 years [as a team owner], willing to sacrifice any more -- or as much -- as they are, just because they want it so bad."This is Hendrick's eighth Cup championship as an owner, so he's a fairly good authority on how teams behave after winning them."Sometimes when guys get it one time, or twice, they maybe back off a little bit," Hendrick said. "They've gotten there."But each championship "just makes these guys even hungrier," he continued. "So with the chemistry between them, and the respect they have, I don't see" -- and here he tried not to jinx it -- "I hope there's nothing in the future that would separate them."The demeanors of Johnson and Knaus haven't really changed since Johnson's rookie season, 2002, when they contended for the championship out of the box.Now, even with three titles won, they both behave like a couple of hungry upstarts, obsessed with proving themselves."I don't think you ever quit learning how to do a better job as a driver or a crew member," Johnson said. "You just can't stop."Even Sunday night, Johnson could look into the eyes of his crew members and see that "they're ready to go racing. They want to do it again."They could start next Sunday, but the workaholic Knaus and his band have to take a breath, Johnson maintained."From a driver's standpoint, I could go race again next week and start the season and go for four. From their standpoint, these guys need a break they need some time off to recharge."[+] EnlargeMark J. Rebilas/US PresswireCrew chief Chad Knaus, left, and Jimmie Johnson have stayed in tune for three straight titles. The championship trophy had barely been hoisted when their attention turned to winning a fourth in a row.
From a driver's standpoint, I could go race again next week and start the season and go for four.
-- Jimmie Johnson
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