Woody: ‘Borrowing’ Crew Sends Strained Message
Larry Woody | Senior Writer
Remind me never to let Chad Knaus borrow my lawn mower.
By now everybody knows what happened during last week’s Texas race. Chad “borrowed” Jeff Gordon’s pit crew and now he won’t return it.
He says it works much better than his old pit crew.
He says it’s faster and more efficient.
He likes it so much he’s decided to keep it.
Some of the TV guys were chirping about the morale-crushing message it sends to the men formerly on Jimmie’s pit crew – you know, the ones who had helped him secure the points lead going into the race? Talk about taking the “team’’ out of “teamwork.” Wonder how they feel about getting dumped two races from the finish?
I think we all know how THEY feel – the real question is how does it make Jeff Gordon feel?
“Well, Jeff, since YOU won’t be needing your pit crew any more …”
We heard some lame excuse about Jimmie battling for a championship.
What about Jeff? He’s battling for a win. Any win. He’s winless this season and struggling through the worst losing streak of his career.
For Gordon, winning a race is just as important as winning a championship is for Johnson.
Granted, getting stuck with Johnson’s hand-me-down pit crew is not disastrous for Gordon in this weekend’s race at Phoenix or next weekend’s at Homestead. Despite the implications of last week’s Texas switcheroo, Jimmie’s pit crew is not exactly chopped liver. They are a good, solid bunch who had done a superb job all season.
Then they hiccuped and got replaced.
Despite the spin that the folks at Hendrick Motorsports tried to apply to the swap, it’s obviously a blow to the pit crew’s morale. They played a vital role in getting Johnson to this point in the season, and now with two races to go they find themselves replaced.
And the analogy about other sports subbing players doesn’t apply here. A football coach may send in a sub now and then but he doesn’t swap his entire offensive line for another team’s with two games to go.
Wouldn’t it be poetic justice if Gordon should win one of the remaining two races with help from his crew of Johnson rejects, or Jimmie lost because of a botched pit stop?
Not that I wish Jimmie any ill luck, understand, but they say what goes around comes around.
Knaus said he made the call and stands by it. He said such tough measures sometimes have to be taken in the best interest of the team when a title is on the line.
So I’m sure Chad will understand when the next time he makes a questionable decision during a race and gets yanked off his pit-road perch and replaced by another crew chief. Nothing personal, understand, but such miscues can’t be tolerated.
– Larry Woody can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Comments