Johnson Sticking With Knaus

Reid Spencer - NASCAR Wire Service Saturday, Oct 25 1475

Now that he’s eliminated from the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship picture, Jimmie Johnson plans to spend as much time as possible working on his effort for 2015.

On several occasions, including Friday at Martinsville Speedway, Johnson has referred to likely changes on his team next year.

“This does open up an opportunity for us to work on ’15 from a personnel standpoint and even from a 2015 test plan,” Johnson said before opening practice, in preparation for Sunday’s race (1:30 p.m. ET on ESPN).

But Johnson made clear that, as far as he’s concerned, potential changes to the No. 48 team do not include crew chief Chad Knaus. The six-time champion did concede, however, that the day will come when Knaus is no longer on his pit box.

“Yeah, that day is out there,” Johnson said. “I think a crew chief’s lifespan is much shorter than a driver’s. They live in dog years, and drivers can carry on much longer. I’ve been accused of being loyal to a fault in the past—that’s me. I have no plans or desires to make a change. When Chad decides he’s had enough of being the guy on the box, it will be his decision to step down.

“As far as I’m concerned, we’ve made it 13 years in this thing. I want to see it go as long as it can. We’re honest with each other and know each other well enough to work through the bad times.

In what has been a difficult year for Johnson, despite his three victories, radio chatter between the driver and crew chief has been strained on occasion, to say the least.

“It might not be pretty, and I’m sure you guys have heard things on the radio that got your attention,” Johnson said. “We’re like family, and we fight like family. We can call each other out on that stuff, and you only hear a piece of it on the radio.

“There is plenty more that goes on behind closed doors and in meetings. It’s more of a time frame of when Chad says, ‘I’ve put in my time here as crew chief, and I need to slow down a little bit.’”

But until that day comes, Johnson won’t be pushing for a change.