The relationship between Johnson and Naus is now solid

Braselton, Georgia (AP) —Jimmie Johnson stood at the doorway of a lounge inside a team transporter eating casually from a can of Pringles. Recognizing his arrival, Chad Knaus spun in a chair to confront the drivers who teamed up in the seven NASCAR Championships.

“Apparently you and I need to talk. I’ll be back in Charlotte,” Naus told Johnson.

“I’ve heard this before,” Johnson laughed.

In an interview released last week, Knaus knew that Johnson had an unintended headline in his long profile of “Depth with Graham Bensinger.” In a sound bite advertised before the television show, “Johnson revealed details of his rift with former crew chief Chad Knaus. It eventually eroded their relationship and separated. I was forced to do it. “

Johnson and Naus won 81 races together, winning a record seven cup championships and a record five straights between 2006 and 2010. Their relationship is constantly up and down, and Rick Hendrick is famous for offering the following two milks and cookies: In the 2005 season, I ordered them to stop fighting like a pair of little boys.

The dissolution did not actually occur until 2018. At that time, the crew chief moved from the 48th team he built 17 years ago after a losing season of more than two years.

“When the times got tough, Chad returned to the crew chief when we first started,” Johnson told Ben Singer. “Micromanagement, explain where you made a mistake, what you need to do, and how you need to work.”

Johnson claimed that a tense relationship had been unraveled when he said he wanted to live in Colorado, about 1,800 miles from Charlotte’s Hendrick Motorsports, earlier in the 2017 season.

“And things started to be personal,” Johnson told Ben Singer.

Johnson’s quote, released prior to the show’s release, was talked about at NASCAR, but Naus talked about the interview until asked about it during an interview with the Associated Press at the Petit Le Mans sports car race in Road Atlanta. I didn’t hear anything.

Johnson retired from NASCAR after the 2020 season and last year started working on the IMSA sports car as an IndyCar rookie. Naus is the No. 48 Cadillac strategist who gathered Johnson and Hendrick Motorsports to run in four endurance races.

“That is, we thought we were okay,” confused Naus first replied when asked by the AP.

It took several attempts to explain the context of Johnson’s comment, and Johnson finally arrived blindly in the conversation he just entered. He said the “headline writer” chose a handful of sound bites from a long and detailed interview “as a clickbait to gain traction on the show,” and his remarks about their relationship three years ago. I explained to Knaus that it was.

Naus wasn’t really upset. Restless Johnson chases after eating a second can of Pringles and all the cool ranch Doritos bags while standing at the doorway of the lounge.

It has now left Knaus to rethink the collapse of arguably the best driver and crew chief combination in NASCAR’s history.

After the split, Johnson drove another season at NASCAR, and Naus was the crew chief of another driver for only one year. He is currently Hendrick’s management and vice president of competition.

“It was a job, it was hard, wasn’t it? That means we had to experience it and maintain our relationships many times,” Knaus told AP. “But every relationship requires maintenance and duration, and we have experienced declines and trends throughout our careers. Even if the times were good, they weren’t always good.”

But nonetheless, they were always successful and continued to commit to connecting Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt of the Hall of Famers with seven cup titles. They hit the mark in 2016 and Johnson won three of the first 13 races of the next season, but Johnson and Naus reached the final break point over Johnson’s desire to move his family to Colorado. I went.

It is now an ancient history for Naus.

“As you know, Aspen, man, look, that’s what it is,” Naus told AP. “It’s difficult from my point of view. I’m old and I’m in another place. But when I look back at where I was at that time, I’m there, every day, and grind. And you can feel like a single parent — what kids come for weekend play, and everything you know is great, but kids want to play with them every day Not.

“It was challenging because it felt like I had experienced it, it didn’t work and I felt like I was in a storm myself.”

Naus currently oversees four current Hendrick drivers, including Chase Elliott, who hasn’t moved from Georgia’s hometown. When asked why Johnson allowed Elliott’s domicile to be accepted when he couldn’t relocate from North Carolina, Naus said it was contextual.

He points out how Jeff Gordon lived in Florida during his heyday without compromising his career and relationship with crew chief Ray Evernham, and his continued progress from Elliott’s rookie to the 2020 Cup champion. bottom.

“It’s all about the environment, and when everything is going well, there aren’t many issues to solve,” Knaus told AP. “But if it doesn’t work, everything matters. And it’s a team sport and you reach the point where you feel abandoned. Nevertheless, I think he’s great racing. I knew I was a car driver, and he was going to give me everything he had every weekend, as I did for him. “

Naus then moved to the Action Express pit stand and called Road Atlanta’s 48th qualifying. As Kamui Kobayashi passed the qualifying, Johnson put on his headset and sat behind Naus to listen to the session.

Naus drew Johnson’s attention.

“Like, bud?” Johnson replied.

“Well, I was until I knew you hated me,” Naus deadpanned.

The two began to laugh, both happy with the current state of their relationship.


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