After slow stops, Johnson's pit crew replaced

The 2010 season hasn't been the best year for the performance of Jimmie Johnson's pit crew, and that performance might have reached a low point Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway.

At the beginning of the race, Johnson consistently lost time thanks to slower stops. They weren't major errors, like dropped lugnuts or loose wheels, but Johnson lost track position on four of his first seven pit stops.

So with Jeff Gordon out of the race thanks to his incident with Jeff Burton, Johnson's crew chief Chad Knaus elected to use Gordon's pit crew.

"Ultimately it's my decision obviously, but we needed to do something," Knaus told ESPN after the race. "This is a team. The 24-48 shop has always operated as a team and that's the way that we see it. It's sad that we have to do that but you know, in the interest of Hendrick Motorsports and what we've got to do, you've got to do that stuff."

Gordon's crew pitted Johnson's car three times near the end of the race and the times were faster in those three stops. However, Knaus didn't sound like the change was permanent.

"I'm hoping to get back with the 48 guys [at Phoenix] and we get everyone's confidence up and get this thing going in the right direction," Knaus said. "It's not what we want to do but sometimes things need to be adjusted a little bit and we had to do that today."

Mike Ford, Denny Hamlin's crew chief, said that his team's decision to pit in front of the No. 48 team played a role. It's a gentleman's agreement in NASCAR that championship contenders attempt to pit away from each other, but the No. 11 team elected to pit in front of Johnson after Johnson had pitted in front of Hamlin at Kansas.

"Normally you would show some courtesy, but that courtesy was thrown out the window at Kansas," Ford said. "Also, knowing that you put the two pit crews toe to toe and those guys are going to make mistakes. We've seen it this year, and we went beside them, and those guys faltered, and it made them panic and push to the point where they made changes.

"I think it worked out very well for us. It kind of put us back a little bit early, but late in the day it didn't affect us at all."

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