|"We fight like family."|
Aside from a three-wins-in-four-weeks stretch in late May and early June, Johnson and Knaus struggled to live up to their lofty competitive standards. A 24th-place finish last weekend at Talladega Superspeedway signaled their exit from title contention, and triggered speculation that the pair might not return for another run in 2015.
“It might not be pretty, and I’m sure you guys have heard things on the radio that got your attention,” admitted Johnson to reporters today. “We’re like family, and we fight like family. We can call each other out on stuff, and you only hear a piece of it on the radio.”
The Hendrick Motorsports driver confirmed that personnel changes could be in the offing, however, in an effort to return to championship form next season.
“This does open up an opportunity for us to work on ’15 from a personnel standpoint,” he said, admitting that at some point, Knaus may tire of the rigors associated with being a Sprint Cup Series crew chief.
“That day is out there,” Johnson ackowledged. “I think a crew chief’s lifespan is much shorter than a driver’s. They live in dog years, and drivers can carry on much longer. I’ve been accused of being loyal to a fault in the past. That’s me. (But) I have no plans or desires to make a change.
“When Chad decides he’s had enough of being the guy on the box, it will be his decision to step down. It’s more a time frame of when Chad says, ‘I’ve put in my time here as crew chief, and I need to slow down a little bit.’ As far as I’m concerned, we’ve made it 13 years (as a team). I want to see it go as long as it can.
“We’re honest with each other and know each other well enough to work through the bad times.”