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Sprint Cup Series


Knaus next to tie record -- but he's got another goal first, Johnson says

Chad Knaus

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Jimmie Johnson's record-tying seventh Sprint Cup Series title put him in elite company with the legendary Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt.

It's quite the feat the No. 48 team achieved, but Johnson is already thinking about eight.

For crew chief Chad Knaus.

Dale Inman holds the record for most championships as a crew chief with eight premier series titles. Having been atop of the pit box for of all seven of Johnson's championships, Knaus would tie that record with an eighth Sprint Cup title.

"I mentioned it to him that we need to go get eight for him," Johnson told NASCAR.com on Tuesday morning. " … He's honestly been such a huge part of my success and deserves the title of 'greatest ever.' So one way to really nip that is to go and put him up there with the same stats as Dale Inman."

In his storied career, Inman achieved seven titles for Petty and his last one for Hall of Fame driver Terry Labonte in 1984. No one has come close to reaching Inman's record in the modern era -- and not even Inman earned eight titles with a single driver.

Knaus has that chance to make history with Johnson, who says he has "another 3-5 years left" in his career.

WATCH: Johnson talks future in sport

Has it entered Knaus' mind? Probably. But as the world saw with Johnson's seventh title, Knaus' impeccably focused drive doesn't come from tying records or rewriting history books.

It comes simply from winning, Johnson says.

"I honestly don't think it's going to be in his mind," Johnson said. "It's just not what motivates him -- he would certainly relish the moment if it happened, but he was even more removed from the significance of seven than I expected.

"I sat alongside of him and listened to him explain this to the media and to others, but working alongside him and seeing that it wasn't about seven at all -- it was about a championship. I wouldn't imagine it would change as he attempts to go for eight."

Johnson's thoughts were echoed in Knaus' post-race remarks Sunday, as he talked about the duo's run for the seventh title.

"I don't mean to be weird or disrespectful or anything like that, but that's -- I haven't approached it throughout the course of our career," Knaus said Sunday. "I really just think about the next event. The next event could be qualifying, the next event could be practice, the next event could be the race. It could be whatever it may be, and I feel like for me, that's the safest environment for me to operate, knowing that there's always that next goal that needs to be achieved, that next goal that needs to be accomplished, and keeping our guys in that mindset.

"Not that I don't want them to enjoy and bask in the opportunity to go out there and battle for championships, or myself, I do enjoy it. That's why we do it. But looking at the numbers right now isn't really what I'm about.

True to form, the Rockford, Illinois, native's next big goal is a more immediate one: To win at his home track of Chicagoland Speedway, one of the three active tracks where Johnson has yet to nab a win.

 

"He reminded me of the promise I made to him to win at Chicago and I haven't been able to do that yet," Johnson said. "So he jokingly laughed and said, 'Let's just focus on Chicago first and then we can worry about the other championship.'

"… When we first started, we were setting some goals back in winter '01 and we both agreed that the first goal would be to win at our home tracks. And that was where my first win (at his home track, Auto Club Speedway) came a handful of races later and we've been in contention numerous times at Chicago and I just keep screwing it up.

"So I owe him big on that."

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