Jimmie Johnson: Dynamic Duos Abound in New England
There’s no doubt Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus make up one of the best driver-crew chief duos in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage. In fact, there are few combinations in any sport that come close to their success. However, New England gives them a run for their money with the duo behind the success of the National Football League’s New England Patriots.
In fact, there are more than just championship comparisons between Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady, who have three championships together to Johnson’s and Knaus’ five. The demeanors of both seem to parallel, too. The intensity and meticulous nature Belichick is known for in the National Football League is matched by Knaus’ reputation as a tireless, attention-to-detail, task master in the Sprint Cup garage. Their teams are led by two men whose actions on the playing field have made them the best in their respective sports. Two-time Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Brady and four-time Driver of the Year Johnson are known for their calm demeanor in pressure situations, and their stats prove it.
Both duos have a big task at hand this weekend, the Patriots traveling to Baltimore after the first-ever loss in a home opener for Brady as a Patriot. Johnson’s No. 48 Lowe’s Racing team is trying to maintain its runner-up spot in the championship standings in Sunday’s Sylvania 300 at the mile oval in Loudon, N.H., after narrowly missing victory lane at last Sunday’s Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship opener at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill.
Johnson has had success at New Hampshire but he has been inconsistent there during the Chase. He won his first championship in 2006 after finishing 39th at New Hampshire. He finished 18th last season, the first time since 2005 that he failed to win the Sprint Cup title. More than half of the 21 races he has run at the flat oval have resulted in top-10 finishes, including three of his last five outings starting with his third career victory at the track in the June 2010 race.
In last September’s Chase race, Johnson had contact with Kyle Busch while running for 13th place with less than 25 laps to go. He nursed the car around the track in the closing laps for an 18th-place finish. In the race this past July, Johnson had a fast Lowe’s Chevy but an ill-timed caution hurt his shot at a win. His July 2010 ended a seven year win drought at the track.
For the No. 48 team, with Knaus calling the shots and Johnson at the wheel, the dynamic duo won’t necessarily need a superhero-type effort to make it to victory lane in New England, although it wouldn’t hurt. Odds are Belichick and Brady won’t need one, either.
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