We get lots of email from driver fans of all stripes here, and they run the gamut from scientific deconstruction to borderline-inhuman ranting. When it comes to Jimmie Johnson, however, #48 fans generally fall in one of two categories: upset that they're not getting enough respect (aw, poor you) or frustrated at the continual pit road mistakes by the 48 team. For every position that Johnson gains on the track, his pit crew gives back five or six in the pits.
What gives? Wasn't this the year that crew chief Chad Knaus was supposed to take the NASCAR world by storm with his jobs-on-the-line methodology?
It hasn't worked out that way, and The NASCAR Insiders' "T.C.," who's allegedly a crew member for a Sprint Cup team (and sure writes like he knows what he's talking about) has a good idea why. The problem, TC suggests, is that Knaus's plan for lighting a fire under the team with competition has instead incinerated all but the basic need for self-preservation:
Really tight pit stops only happen when guys know each other really well, and can anticipate each other's every move. If a mistake happens, the team rallies, makes a correction, and keeps digging. Teamwork like that only comes from continuity. Knaus has dismissed this completely. ... A guy who is constantly worried about making one small mistake and getting replaced won't be at the top of his game. He's too focused on not screwing up, when he should be focused on staying loose and doing things right.
Look, Knaus managed to win a championship last year while swapping out a pit crew mid-Chase, which seems about as easy to do as changing a tire while the car is moving, so maybe we shouldn't dismiss him just yet. But clearly, the 48 team is in no way the dominant force on the track, and much of the blame for that starts atop the pit box.