NASCAR

Johnson, Knaus sticking to the plan

Jimmie Johnson
Jimmie Johnson (left) and crew chief Chad Knaus have won five championships together.
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Larry McReynolds

Larry McReynolds has more than 30 years of NASCAR experience as a mechanic, Daytona 500-winning crew chief and broadcaster. He earned 23 Sprint Cup wins as a crew chief, including two victories in the prestigious Daytona 500, as well as a pair of non-points victories in the annual all-star race. Follow him on Twitter.

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There’s been a lot of speculation this week about how Jimmie Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus will approach the race this weekend.

Will they play it safe and just do the bare minimum to finish 23rd or better to win the championship? Will they swing for the fence and race hard all day trying to win?

If I know those two, they will simply approach this weekend like they have the other 35. Just go out and do what got you to this point. I mean c’mon, they know what they are doing because they have the five consecutive championships to prove it.

I look for them to try to qualify well, if not sit on the pole. That will get them a good pit selection which always is a benefit in the race no matter what track we are at.

They will try and lead a lap early for the bonus point situation. They’ll try and stay out of the “eye of the storm” as we call it – that mid-pack racing that normally leads to wadded up race cars. The overall message is don’t get off your game.

Now sure, once you cross the threshold of being over the halfway point of the race and having a good measuring stick of how Matt Kenseth is running and how his day is going to be, then you might adjust your plan. Trust me, you don’t adjust it much.

At the end of the day, that No. 48 has the most experience in that garage about what it takes to win the whole thing. Look for them to be smart, but just watch and see if they don’t stick to their game plan.
 

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