When discussing his breakup with seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, which will occur at the end of the season, crew chief Chad Knaus made a plea to the media.
"Let's be frank -- who ever thought that this would have gone 17 years?" Knaus said on Oct. 11, a day after it was announced he would serve as William Byron's crew chief next year. "My point is this: Instead of reflecting on what is the unknown, reflect a little bit on what we accomplished.
"And that is what I have really focused on. We have done amazing things over the course of our career. It should not have stemmed the span that it did."
OK, so let's take a look at many of the amazing things -- and, OK, some of the not-so-amazing things -- that Knaus and Johnson accomplished in their 17 years together as they approach their final race as crew chief and driver on Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC).
There have been so many, so we had to pick a number of moments -- 48, to be exact -- that helped define their success.
1. First Cup race, first pole, February 2002: Johnson, in his fourth career Cup start but in his first with Knaus as his crew chief, won the pole for the 2002 Daytona 500. He finished 15th. After winning the pole, Johnson said: "I knew we were going fast when I came off of Turn 4 sideways. That was the first time I'd ever had that happen to me in my career, so I knew we were doing pretty good."
2. Fontana win, April 2002: Johnson, a California native, led 62 laps to win the 2002 race at Fontana, his 13th career Cup start and 10th with Knaus.
3. All-Star Race win, May 2003: Johnson won in just his second All-Star Race. He would go on to win four, the most of any driver.
4. Coca-Cola 600 win, May 2003: In his fourth career win, Johnson started 37th and won a rain-shortened, 276-lap race a week after capturing the All-Star Race victory.
5. Coca-Cola 600 win, May 2004: Johnson showed he could win a 400-lap race, as he led 334 of the 400 laps on his way to victory. After the win, Johnson keyed the radio: "I don't know how you guys can say domination, but I'll say it. Yeah. That's it! Domination!"
6. Martinsville win, October 2004, and tragedy: Johnson won on Oct. 24, 2004, a tragic day for Hendrick Motorsports, as a team plane crashed when it overshot the runway on a foggy day near Martinsville. Killed in the accident were Rick Hendrick's son, Ricky Hendrick; Rick's brother, HMS president John Hendrick; John's twin daughters, Kimberly and Jennifer; Hendrick Motorsports engine builder Randy Dorton; Hendrick Motorsports general manager Jeff Turner; DuPont executive Joe Jackson; Tony Stewart pilot Scott Lathram; and Hendrick pilots Richard Tracy and Elizabeth Morrison.
7. Atlanta win, October 2004: In an emotional victory seven days after the tragedy, Johnson began the healing process for Hendrick Motorsports. Johnson said in Victory Lane: "It doesn't change anything and we don't get back our friends that we lost. But it sure makes it feel a little better to do something like this."
8. Southern 500 win, November 2004: Johnson swept the races at Darlington and won the Southern 500, the last year Darlington had two races.
9. Milk and cookies, offseason 2005: Some point to after the 2005 season, with Johnson and Knaus sniping at each other, when Rick Hendrick sat them down, as the story goes, and handed them cookies on Mickey Mouse plates and brought them milk to drink. The meeting started with Hendrick saying, "If you're going to act like children ..." They talked things out and the rest was history.
10. Knaus ejected from Daytona following 2006 Daytona 500 qualifying: Knaus was ejected from the Daytona 500 week after NASCAR determined in post-qualifying inspection that Johnson's rear window was raised. One of the reasons for the ejection was repeated violations of NASCAR rules. He was suspended for three races following Daytona.
11. Daytona 500 win, February 2006: With Darian Grubb as his interim crew chief, Johnson won his first Daytona 500. During his career, he would win two of his 83 races with Knaus suspended.
12. Brickyard 400 win, August 2006: Johnson won his first Brickyard 400. Earlier in the week, Knaus had signed a contract extension through 2010. Knaus: "This honestly was the best week of my life."
13. Martinsville win, October 2006: Winning Martinsville lifted Johnson from seventh to third in the Cup standings with four races remaining. He then followed that win with three consecutive second-place finishes.
14. Homestead, November 2006: Johnson finished ninth to win the title by 56 points over Matt Kenseth. It was the first title for Johnson and Knaus. Johnson: "Chad and I have been through this, this is our fifth season together and Chad really has steered this team and developed the crew guys and developed what we have as a core race team, and I can't thank him enough for being not only a great leader but a great friend."
15. Knaus' six-race suspension June 2007: Knaus and Jeff Gordon crew chief Steve Letarte were suspended for six races, their drivers docked 100 points and fined $100,000 for manipulating the right-front fenders at Sonoma.
16. Texas win, November 2007: Johnson and Kenseth waged an intense battle in the final 10 laps, and Johnson passed Kenseth with about two laps left to win, vaulting Johnson to the top of the driver standings.
17. Phoenix win, November 2007: The win marked Johnson's 10th of the season, the most he would earn in one year. That fourth straight win also increased his points lead. Knaus would say a week later: "We're pretty fierce competitors and what we want to do is win races. When we knew that was our only way to get back into the championship hunt was to win races, it was nice."
18. Homestead, November 2007: Championship No. 2. Johnson finished seventh to win by 77 points over Gordon. Johnson: "We're just really hitting our stride. I think we have a lot of good years ahead of us, and we'll be fighting for more championships and certainly winning more races as years go by. Hopefully we can be a three-time champion in the near future."
19. Brickyard 400 win, July 2008: Johnson won at the Brickyard for the second time, but that wasn't what was memorable about this race. This would become known as the tire debacle, as NASCAR's new "Car of Tomorrow" created more wear on the Goodyear tires than in past years. The abrasive Indy surface became a cheese grater of the tires, and NASCAR had to throw the caution about every 10 laps so teams could change tires.
20. Phoenix win, November 2008: The dominating victory -- Johnson led 217 laps, including the final 95 -- gave Johnson a 141-point cushion going into the final race over Carl Edwards. In other words, game over.
21. Homestead, November 2008: In a runaway championship season, Johnson finished 15th in the race to win by 69 points over Edwards. Knaus on this date lauded Johnson as the best ever. Knaus: "I've been fortunate to work with really great race car drivers. I worked with Jeff Gordon in the 24 car. I've seen what Jeff can do with a race car and I've got a lot of respect for what Jeff can do. To be able to work with Jimmie, he's definitely brought it to a new level. ... In my eyes he's the best that there's been. People are going to say Richard Petty is, Dale Earnhardt and all those guys. But with the competition level the way it is today with what you've got to do working, racing day in and day out, no time to take time off, in my mind, he is the best."
22. Awards banquet, December 2008: The only other driver ever to win three consecutive championships -- Cale Yarborough -- joined Johnson on the stage. Yarborough doesn't do many appearances, and his presence was a symbolic tip of the hat to Johnson that he could break more records in years to come.
23. Brickyard win, July 2009: Johnson became the first driver to win back-to-back Brickyard 400s.
24. Homestead, November 2009: Having won at Phoenix a week earlier to enter 108 points ahead of Mark Martin, Johnson finished fifth at Homestead to finish with a 141-point margin for the title over Martin. But it didn't come without some stress. Knaus: "We get mad at each other -- there's no doubt about it. But I think that is part of the dynamic we've got. Jimmie is obviously typically very mellow, which counters my aggressiveness, I guess you would say, very well."
25. Bristol win, March 2010: This win wasn't just the first for Johnson at Bristol -- it marked his 50th Cup victory. It wasn't easy, as Johnson passed Tony Stewart with seven laps left.
26. Talladega, April 2010: Johnson made Gordon, his teammate, angry with seven laps remaining when he blocked him, forcing him below the yellow line to lose several spots. Gordon: "The 48 is testing my patience, I can tell you that. It takes a lot to make me mad and I am pissed right now. When a car is going that much faster, I don't know what is [going on] with me and him right now."
27. Sonoma win, June 2010: Johnson earned the first road course victory of his career. He did get a gift when Marcos Ambrose stalled his car under caution and didn't maintain pace-car speed, handing the lead to Johnson.
28. Dover win, September 2010: Johnson's victory came after he opened the Chase with a 25th-place finish at New Hampshire. He would finish second the next week at Kansas to take the points lead.
29. Homestead, November 2010: Johnson entered the race 15 points behind Denny Hamlin, while Kevin Harvick was 46 points behind Hamlin, who had suffered a bad day a week earlier when the team had to pit late for fuel. Johnson finished second, Hamlin finished 14th and Johnson won the title -- his fifth consecutive -- by 39 points over Hamlin. Johnson: "I guess I haven't thought much about where we are in looking up at what Petty and Earnhardt have done. I mean, absolutely, I would love to tie them. I would love to surpass them. I don't know how realistic that is. I never thought ... that I would get to this point."
30. Talladega win, April 2011: In the era of tandem racing, Dale Earnhardt Jr. pushed Johnson on the inside of a three-wide battle at the finish line to win.
31. Atlanta, September 2011: Johnson didn't win this one, but he waged an epic battle with Gordon, a battle that Gordon would eventually win for his 85th career victory.
32. Phoenix, November 2011: Johnson was officially eliminated from championship contention after a 14th-place run. His chances were doubtful before that race, but his streak of championships officially ended at five that day.
33. Knaus suspension overturned on appeal in March 2012: Knaus was suspended for six weeks, fined $100,000, and Johnson was docked 25 points for illegal modified C-posts that NASCAR found in Daytona 500 pre-qualifying inspection. The ruling was overturned by NASCAR chief appellate officer John Middlebrook, who did not rescind the $100,000 fine. The team said the C-posts had been used in previous seasons and other teams were given opportunity to work on their C-posts without penalty. Knaus: "It's been years since we've been in trouble. It's unfortunate the perception out there is we continue to bend the rules, because we truly don't. ... We go above and beyond to be compliant with what they want."
34. Darlington win, May 2012: The win in the Southern 500 gave Hendrick Motorsports its 200th victory.
35. All-Star Race win, May 2012: What was memorable about this All-Star win? Rick Hendrick climbed into the driver-side window and rode with Johnson down the frontstretch to Victory Lane.
36. Brickyard win, July 2012: Johnson became the first driver to win four Brickyard 400s.
37. Phoenix, November 2012: A bit of unfortunate circumstances in a pivotal race in which Johnson entered leading the points, but he blew a tire (likely from excessive braking) and hit the wall with 78 laps to go. He lost the points lead to Brad Keselowski, who went on to win the championship.
38. Daytona 500 win, February 2013: Johnson won the Daytona 500 for the second time in his career. It was the first for Knaus since he was suspended for the 2006 win. Knaus: "When those guys were able to come down here and win the Daytona 500 in 2006 in my absence, I think that really solidified the strength of the 48 car. Was I here? No. Was I here in spirit? Most definitely. I couldn't have been prouder of the group of guys we had there. To finally be able to come down here and win and be a part of this is definitely a huge dream come true."
39. Another Daytona win, July 2013: Johnson's sweep of the Daytona races was the first time it had happened since 1982.
40. Homestead, November 2013: In the last race of NASCAR's non-elimination championship format, Johnson entered the finale 28 points ahead of Kenseth and 34 points ahead of Harvick. Johnson finished ninth, winning the title by 19 points over Kenseth. Johnson: "When I look back on the year, I think about the Gen 6 car, the race to figure out what the car wanted for speed, the hard work from everybody at Hendrick, the way we've been able to connect through the 48 team, find speed in the car, develop the car, innovate in the garage area with the setups that are in the car. I give Chad all the credit in the world for honing in on those things, finding speed and building me fast race cars."
41. Charlotte, October 2014: We'll use this race to demonstrate that they didn't always get along. They had an infamous argument on the radio during the race. Knaus asked him what was going on and Johnson replied, "I'm driving my ass off and I'm about to crash." Knaus responded by saying, "Listen, why are you crashing, I'm trying to help you." Johnson replied, "You asked me what's going on." Knaus asked him where he was crashing and Johnson said, "The racetrack. I drive it in real hard, I slide it to the wall and almost crash." As Johnson would later describe their relationship: "We fight like family."
42. Knaus wedding, August 2015: How much influence has Johnson had on Knaus? Johnson was Chad's best man at Chad's wedding. Many credit Johnson with helping Knaus find a balance in life.
43. Atlanta win, February 2016: Johnson took the lead in the race by pitting earlier for tires than the competition on their final green-flag pit stops in a gutsy move by Knaus at a track where tire wear played a role. Johnson was able to retain the lead on an overtime restart on his way to the 76th victory of his career -- tying Earnhardt on the all-time wins list.
44. Homestead win, November 2016: Having made it to the championship round, many believe Johnson had the fourth-best car among the four championship finalists. But after a crash between Joey Logano and Edwards, Johnson found himself in position to win, and he capitalized to capture his seventh Cup title, tying Earnhardt and Petty for the most titles. Johnson: "Loyalty is a huge thing with me. We've had our bumps in the road, but he's a brother, and I'm so proud of him and so thankful that whatever drew us to one another and created this opportunity for us to start the 48 team and work together happened. It's amazing. I would not be here today as a seven-time champion without Chad Knaus."
45. Dover win, June 2017: This is the most recent win for Johnson, the 83rd of his career, which ties him for sixth on the all-time list with Yarborough. Johnson has 11 wins at Dover, the most for him at any track on the circuit.
46. Charlotte road course, September 2018: Johnson spun while trying to pass Martin Truex Jr. in the final turn of the new Charlotte road course. Johnson just didn't not win -- the spin also caused him to lose enough spots that he failed to advance to the second round of the playoffs.
47. Johnson-Knaus breakup for 2019 announced, October 2018: On Oct. 10, Hendrick Motorsports announced that Johnson would have a new crew chief (Kevin Meendering) for 2019 while Knaus would move over to crew chief for William Byron. Knaus had signed a contract extension three months earlier when the intent was to keep them together, but their struggles had mounted. Johnson: "Over the years, we've certainly had our heated moments, but the commitment we've had to one another, our relationship and the success of the team, we've invested a lot in that and put a lot of time in it. The decision to split up, it took a long time to make that decision as well. It's not something that was like, 'OK, yeah, that's what we're going to do.' We put a lot of thought into it, worked on it, and I think that we have a really strong plan moving forward."
48. Last Cup race together, November 2018: OK, it hasn't happened yet. But it will this Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway. It could be bittersweet, as Johnson hasn't won this year, meaning it very likely could be his first full season of the 17 without a win.