[media-credit name=”Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images” align=”alignright” width=”226″][/media-credit]After the first 136 laps of Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway it appeared that Jimmie Johnson had a car well capable of winning the race. Johnson who had led 44 of the first 118 laps of Sunday’s race was mired back in traffic after receiving the wave around during a cycle of yellow flag pit stops.
On lap 136 disaster appeared to strike Johnson and the No.48 team. Johnson who was trying to make a pass underneath the No.56 of Martin Truex Jr. spun and backed his Lowe’s Chevrolet into the wall. Instead of going to the garage for repairs Chad Knaus never wavered. Knaus began giving directions to his No.48 pit crew. After several pit stops and incredibly never losing a lap Johnson was able to continue the race and score a 9th place finish after what had looked like a wreck that had taken the 5-time champion out of contention.
Johnson didn’t know the extent of the damage to his Lowe’s Chevrolet until after the race. “I’m just now getting a chance to look at the damage on the car and it’s pretty severe,” Johnson said. “I’m impressed they fixed it as they did and they got the spoiler and the decklid back in place.
“I’m surprised the car was as fast as it is. It drove fine through the turn. I could tell on the straightaway it didn’t have the efficiency. I can see why with this left rear quarter panel it’s blown out, a big parachute sticking in the wind.” Even though Johnson doesn’t lead the chase standings he did manage to keep the gap between himself and points leader Brad Keselowski at 7 points heading into next week’s race at Martinsville a track where Johnson has went to victory lane on 6 occasions.
Rick Hendrick was impressed with the effort of the 48 team on Sunday. “Unbelievable,” Hendrick said. “I’ve never in my 30 years of racing seen anybody perform that kind of surgery and not lose a lap. I basically I thought our deal was over, probably not even get back out there. … That was truly amazing.
“That says it all about what the 48 team is all about and Chad’s leadership.”
If Johnson goes on to win this championship after Homestead many will point to this race as the key factor in why the No.48 team won the championship. Sunday at Kansas just might have been the most impressive performance of 2012 for the 48 team.