The duo have been together from the start of Johnson's incredible Sprint Cup career.
Jimmie Johnson’s contract extension this month with Hendrick Motorsports came as no surprise.
The news Johnson’s longtime crew chief, Chad Knaus, had agreed to an extension through the 2018 season – one year longer than Johnson’s – was a bit more so.
(Chad Knaus) wants seven (championships), he wants eight ... I’d like to see us end our careers together but I think his time frame is going to be a little bit shorter than what mine will end up being.
For one, Knaus has always maintained an interest in doing something other than being a crew chief in the Sprint Cup Series and this season has been making more appearances on various NASCAR TV programs.
And about this time over the last several seasons, rumors have surfaced of Knaus and Johnson finally going their separate ways.
A day without Chad Knaus
Johnson, however, said he was not surprised Knaus locked himself into an extension with HMS early.
“He and I and Rick (Hendrick, team owner) talk often about where we’re at, what we think and it was no surprise to me he wanted to renew and have another couple years,” Johnson said Thursday at Chase Media Day at The Murphy in downtown Chicago.
“He wants seven (championships), he wants eight. He wants to be a part of what this whole No. 48 team has started. Ultimately, I’d like to see us end our careers together but I think his time frame is going to be a little bit shorter than what mine will end up being.”
You don’t want to put too much thought into it because as soon as you do, you stop sleeping, you stop eating, the nerves set in
Jimmie Johnson on the quest for a seventh title
In other words, Johnson said, there may be a day when he has a different crew chief atop his pit box.
Right now, though, Johnson and Knaus’ focus is starting off this season’s Chase this weekend at Chicagoland Speedway on a high note in hopes of gaining their NASCAR record-tying seventh series championship.
The Quest for 7
The quest to tie NASCAR icons Richard Petty and the late Dale Earnhardt in championships – or even top them – is not something Johnson himself spends much time on.
Perhaps if he had missed the Chase this season and a title opportunity had slipped away, he would be more cognizant of the looming milestone, Johnson, who turned 40 years old Thursday, said.
“Even when we had five straight titles going, it never became real until we got to Homestead or we were within a week or two of it happening,” he said.
“You don’t want to put too much thought into it because as soon as you do, you stop sleeping, you stop eating, the nerves set in. I haven’t let it in yet and there really hasn’t been a need to.”