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Woody: ‘Borrowing’ Crew Sends Strained Message

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, November 11 2010

Jeff Gordon's crew has been loaned out and is not being returned any time soon. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

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 lwoody@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, November 11 2010


  • 24nomore says:

    larry you hit the nail on the head with me …..latart made a statment that he was on board.yes man, gordon dont need that on his pit box. he needs someone crawlin up his butt when he screws up hes done plenty of that.his restarts are pathetic he looses 4 spots before he gets it in high gear this stuff should be cleaned up. but the call in vegas set the tone for the season. ive watched this enough to know a 4 tire change is a no brainer……. if hendrick likes this call hes not who i thought he was, and gordon the same . this call makes most gordon fans want ta throw up……

  • 24nomore says:

    gordon fan vs knaus….

  • Big Ed says:

    Good stuff, Woody. We’ll see if its a good move or bad move.

  • Jerseygirl says:

    Excellent article. From a long time Jeff Gordon fan, thanks for putting into words what I felt when I heard that Gordon was going to donate his pit crew to the 48’s 10 race trophy hunt. This is nonsense and insulting to Jeff. It wasn’t bad enough that at Martinsville, Jeff let Johnson in time and time again if the 48 was on the outside and the courtesy was NEVER once returned, then at the Alabama lottery, Jeff was supposed to “help” the 48, no matter what. Ugh, this whole thing makes me sick and doesn’t in any way make me want to cheer for Johnson to win this.

    Go Harvick or Hamlin — I’m not cheering for the 48! Anyone but Johnson.

  • Terry says:

    1965 FORD borrowed NASCAR’s Wood Bros. to give Jim Clark and Lotus it’s first INDY 500 win……
    to quote Herm Edwards ..( ex JETS-CHIEFS coach )
    ” HELLO….you play to win the game…”

    • ed g says:

      Terry, your comparison doesn’t hold water. Using a pit crew from an entirely different racing series in a pre-planned manner is very different from yanking an experienced, 4 time championship crew and replacing them during a race (while they watch!). While I like Herm Edwards as much as anyone, if you just play to win one game, without thinking about the consequences for games down the road, you risk winning the victory but losing the war. Jeff Gordon is a very proud champion and to have his crew taken away from him by the 48 team, with which he clearly has problems with already, is not a motivator for anyone. Embarrassing an entire team and swiping them from a fellow competitor is a desperation move that will not help anyone win in the long term.

      • Terry says:

        I believe Hendrick and Gordon sign the checks on the #48 team. Jeff Gordon the owner is thinking over and above Jeff Gordon the driver.
        If Peyton Manning was getting knocked on his backside play after play from the nose guard…..believe me Jeff Saturday his forever center would get yanked….
        1965 Lotus crew was the top team in Europe F1 ….FORD said you’re NOT good enough for Indy… they brought in the BEST.
        YES…you play to win the game week in week out ….thats how #48 has won 4 in a row….and I AM NOT EVEN A HENDICK or #48 FAN.

  • Dick says:

    Hmmmmmm. Reminds me of the time that Dale Jarret “hired” Jeff’s e-n-t-i-r-e “Rainbow Warriors” pit crew out from under Jeff!

  • Janis24 says:

    Thank you so much for writing an article that states exactly what every Jeff Gordon fan is feeling! Most of us believe that JJ should have been made to keep his original crew like everyone else and finish no matter where he ends up…accept that you’re NOT perfect like the media makes you out to be and take the punches as they come like every other driver! And what about Jeff? I guess it doesn’t matter to the Hendrick organization that he would like to win a race this season and I hope it happens just as you say…take that Chad and JJ…perfect revenge! And how about the other two teams at Hendrick? They seem to have been forgotten and placed along the wayside with Jeff so maybe Hendrick should kick the invisible three teams out and keep his precious champion who has really been handed way too many of those so called championships when they really are only ten race trophies…not like Jeff and others won theirs for racing with consistency all season!!

  • NEDA COCHRAN says:

    AMEN, WOODY! Who is the “leader” (“chief”) of the replaced crew?! CHAD, right?! If it truely is a “team thing” then why was his butt not climbing down from his perch?! I mean…a team can only be as good as it’s leader, right?! I personally am sick of everyone bowning down to CK and JJ (driver’s, included)! Driver’s going through lapped traffic, for example…the lapped guy’s will fight (race hard, even wreck) driver’s trying to pass them….UNLESS, of course, that driver is “prince jimmy,” in that case, OF COURSE, the scoot on over, saying, “there you go jimmy, sweetie pie….be careful now,” as they pat (or kiss) his little behind! NOW, it’s…”oh no! your crew had a bad day?! well, here ya go sweetie pie….have someone else’s, cuz they are doing a better job!” and OF COURSE, the customary pat/kiss on the behind!
    SICK OF IT!!!
    I will not say that JJ is not a very talented driver! Nor that CK is not a very talented crew chief! They truely are very talented! And, they share an awesome chemistry/communication! BUT…I will say…Just exactly where would they be, if they were NOT given/handed the BEST of EVERYTHING/EVERYONE, even when it means sacrificing the rest of “TEAM” Hendrick’s driver’s/crew’s?! Where would they be, if JG did not play such a big role in putting JJ in the 48 car, in the first place?! Are they thankful, respectful, humble, grateful, or do they even acknowledge exactly what was done for them?! NOPE…at least not in a way that anyone (fan’s, at least) can see!!! What we see is…arogant, self-centered, non-grateful, spoiled, and self oriented jackasses!!!
    On a final note…”Dear former 48 crew; You all did an awesome job getting JJ to where he was in the chase! Sorry you had a bad day, and were knocked down by your leader instead of supported and encouraged! Now, I say to you…GET EVEN! Take 24 to victory lane, in the last TWO races! Let JJ and CK KNOW what jackasses they really are!!!” “Dear former 24 crew; To you, I say…you guy’s are awesome! You are part of an awesome team (the 24 team, that is)! I am so sorry that you have to work with such jackasses who do not care about thier own team members (CK and JJ)! And, I also say to you…DO NOT forget how many times JJ had done YOUR DRIVER (JG) wrong, throughout this season!!!”
    LASTLY….WIN as a TEAM, or LOSE as a “TEAM”….LEARN THAT, JJ & CK!!! It is NOT win as a “TEAM” or STEAL someone else’s team, so you can!!!