Knaus, Johnson claim second straight victory

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-11745006511990.jpg’, ‘Photo courtesy of‘, ‘Defending NASCAR Nextel Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, who has Rockford native Chad Knaus as crew chief, celebrated his second consecutive victory March 18 after winning the Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta.‘);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-117450159318540.jpg’, ‘Photo courtesy of‘, ‘Jimmie Johnson in the No. 42 Lowe’s Chevrolet passes Tony Stewart in the No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet with three laps to go for the win at Atlanta.‘);

After leaving Las Vegas with lady luck at his side, reigning Nextel Cup champion Jimmie Johnson went to Atlanta and made it two wins in a row this past Sunday, March 18.

Johnson needed lady luck to show up again this week. He was able to narrowly edge by race leader Tony Stewart with only three laps remaining in the Kobalt Tools 500.

On lap 322, the duo raced side-by-side going into turn two. Stewart scraped the wall going through the turn, and Johnson went on to win the race by about half the length of the front stretch.

Johnson’s crew chief and former Rockfordian Chad Knaus was in town last Tuesday (March 13) for the grand opening of the new Lowe’s distribution center. Knaus joined Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey and Winnebago County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen for the ribbon-cutting ceremony. The stop in Rockford was a quick one for Knaus while on his way to Atlanta.

Mark Martin finished Sunday’s race in 10th and clings to an 8-point lead over runner-up Jeff Gordon. Martin, who has never won a series championship, is expected to sit out this week’s race at Bristol and the Martinsville race the following week. If he does miss those two races, he will undoubtedly sacrifice his lead in the season points standings.

The Bristol race will also be the unveiling of NASCAR’s “Car of Tomorrow.” The bigger, boxier model could present a challenge for the teams. Who’ll be the first to figure it out and win at the always-tough half-mile oval? Chances are good it definitely won’t be Martin. Can Johnson make it three in a row? We’ll have to wait to see if Ms. Luck will be along for the ride again this week.

Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at

from the March 21-28, 2007, issue

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