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    Knip Knaus

    It’s funny how year after year some drivers seem to perform the same way at certain times of the season. You can almost set your watch to Tony Stewart finding a hot late summer groove like he seems to be doing now that August is upon us. You can also bet that Jimmie Johnson is going to bust out the gate like a racehorse, only to fade down the stretch. Last year was sort of an abomination to that JimmieJohnson.jpgtrend, when he crashed in the first race of the Chase at New Hampshire only to benefit down the stretch by the demise of virtually every other Chase driver, most notably Jeff Burton. This year is no different for J.J.: after the first 13 races this season, he was second in points to teammate Jeff Gordon, but beginning with the Pocono 500 in June seven races ago, the Lowe’s Chevrolet has been in freefall through the standings, dropping all the way to 9th heading into the Pennsylvania 500 at the same Pocono track this week. Crew chief Chad Knaus knaus.jpghasn’t helped Johnson’s cause any, costing his driver 100 pts for tampering with the Car of Today at Infineon and then sending J.J. out much to early in the Brickyard 400 after getting involved in a seven car pileup triggered by Jamie McMurray. Johnson pitted four times and restarted as the first car one lap down, but lost the free pass to Martin Truex, Jr. when the caution came out for contact between Casey Mears and Elliott Sadler eight laps later. Despite a badly smoking tire, Johnson’s team apparently elected to stay out in an attempt to receive the next free pass; unfortunately for them, J.J. was the cause of the next caution six laps later as he finally cut the tire and slammed headlong into the wall on only the 2nd lap after the restart, bursting into flames before sliding to a halt and scurrying to get his chestnuts out of the roasting fire. Great call, guys!

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