Jim­mie John­son, Chad Knaus to split af­ter 17 years

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - Sport -

THERE will not be an eighth NASCAR ti­tle for Jim­mie John­son and Chad Knaus.

Hen­drick Mo­tor­sports will split the driver and crew chief — the long­est pair­ing in NASCAR — at the end of a dis­ap­point­ing sea­son. John­son has not won a race in 17 months and was knocked out of the play­offs in the first round. John­son and Knaus won their record-ty­ing sev­enth cham­pi­onship in 2016 but have slumped in the two years since.

“It’s no se­cret that Chad and Jim­mie have ex­pe­ri­enced their ups and downs over the years,” owner Rick Hen­drick said. “They’re fierce com­peti­tors, great friends and have im­mense re­spect for one an­other. They also fight like broth­ers. All three of us agree it’s fi­nally time for new chal­lenges and that a change will ben­e­fit them and the or­ga­ni­za­tion.”

John­son and Knaus were part­nered in 2002 when Knaus built the No. 48 team as part of a Hen­drick ex­pan­sion. They won a record-ty­ing seven ti­tles and made the play­offs in all 15 years of its ex­is­tence.

There has some­times been ten­sion be­tween the two, and Hen­drick more than once con­sid­ered split­ting them for the good of the or­ga­ni­za­tion. The time fi­nally came Wed­nes­day in a per­son­nel shakeup an­nounced by the re­build­ing or­ga­ni­za­tion.

“Chad and Jim­mie will go down as one of the great­est com­bi­na­tions in sports his­tory,” Hen­drick said. “They de­fied the odds by per­form­ing at a cham­pi­onship level for longer than any­one could’ve pos­si­bly imag­ined. What they’ve ac­com­plished to­gether has been ab­so­lutely re­mark­able and will be cel­e­brated for gen­er­a­tions. This has been an in­cred­i­ble, sto­ry­book run.”

Photo: AP

In this Fri­day, Sept. 28, 2018, file photo, Crew chief Chad Knaus, left, talks with driver Jim­mie John­son, right, be­fore qual­i­fy­ing for the NASCAR Cup Se­ries auto race at Char­lotte Mo­tor Speed­way in Con­cord, N.C.

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