By Doug Halberstadt
Jimmie Johnson and his crew chief, Rockford native Chad Knaus, are only five races away from winning their fourth consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup championship. They have a 90-point lead over their nearest competition, second-place Mark Martin.
The dynamic duo, as they have come to be known in some NASCAR circles, are once again heating up at just the right time of the racing season. Johnson and Knaus have put the Lowe’s No. 48 Chevrolet in victory lane in three out of the last four races.
They started getting things warmed up with a win in Dover, Del., back on Sept. 27. They followed that up with another Top 10 finish (ninth) the following week at Kansas. In the last two races, they have dominated the field and come home with convincing wins at Fontana Oct. 11 and then again last Saturday night, Oct. 17, at Charlotte.
The series moves to Martinsville this Sunday (Oct. 25) for the only short-track stop remaining on the schedule. That’s more good news for Johnson and Knaus. They have won the last two races on the paper-clip-shaped half-mile track. Johnson won the Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 there March 29 of this year, and he took the checkered flag there a year ago (Oct. 19, 2008) in the Tums QuikPak 500. As a matter of fact, Johnson has won five of the last six races at Martinsville dating back to Oct. 22, 2006.
With that kind of history of success at Martinsville, combined with the momentum he’s riding, it would be awfully difficult to envision Johnson and Knaus not finishing strong again this week. Barring a mechanical failure or Johnson getting caught up in another driver’s mishap, I wouldn’t be surprised if the “dynamic duo” doesn’t make it three wins in a row.
Sunday’s (Oct. 25) race can be seen locally on ABC with coverage beginning at noon.
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the October 21-27, 2009 issue