Originally Published: June 2, 2014

Sprint Cup: Back-To-Back Wins For JJ

Sprint Cup: Let the 48 team domination begin

By Ed Hinton | ESPN.com

Here we go again, full throttle, wide open, on Jimmie Johnson.

Not just his getting on another roll, but all the baggage -- nitpicking, criticism, resentment and suspicion -- that comes with it.

This time, he and crew chief Chad Knaus asked for it. Talk about red meat for their detractors. They threw a 2-pound porterhouse onto the fire Sunday.

No sooner had Johnson taken the checkered flag at Dover, for his second straight win, than Knaus, on the radio, got it started.

Jimmie Johnson
Drew Hallowell/Getty ImagesJimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus did the heavy lifting again Sunday at Dover.

"I told you you were gonna like that race car, didn't I?" Knaus said. "Told you last week."

Then, in Victory Lane, Johnson told Fox reporters that "We've got a new-generation car that Chad just had a lot of faith in, put a lot of time and effort into. He told me I'd love the car, and sure enough, we unloaded and got on the track and it was right."

Then, after TV signed off, the pair's in-depth interviews with reporters at the track added several more oversize roll-aboards to the baggage.

"Going into the 600 last weekend, I told Jimmie we were taking his favorite race car to [Charlotte], and I told him his new favorite car was going to Dover the following week, and I told him his next favorite car was going to be going to Indianapolis [in July]," Knaus said. "So far I'm doing pretty good, and hopefully we can keep it true."

Indy, this far out? That's like calling a Ruthian shot nearly two months in advance. But first, "definitely looking forward to getting to Pocono," Knaus said of this week's task at hand.

Johnson and Knaus were just being honest, credit them for that. But maybe they should consider just who they are and just how they're resented and criticized. (Or maybe they just don't care anymore.)

Anyway, here we go again, same song, new verse, from the throngs of detractors who'll claim Johnson is just riding a missile handed to him by Knaus … that Knaus' technology is, er, uh, hrrmph, suspect … that all that Hendrick Motorsports money and all those engineers and micrometers and robotic machines and seven-post-shaker simulators are what have added up to six championships and this run toward a seventh.

(Oh, and this new-generation car within the Hendrick compound is sure to pique the curiosity and close scrutiny of the NASCAR inspectors every week -- yet another verse in the same song about the 48 team.)

This new Knaus creation seems to have something to do with taking advantage of NASCAR's removal of ride-height restrictions. Ride height was long one of Knaus' favorite areas for high-tech tinkering, and "the advantages we had last year were minimized with these new rules," he said Sunday.

You have to have seen just how hard, how long, Knaus works to produce those rocket ships. You have to know how hard, how much, Johnson trains physically, and how deep his dirt-racing background runs, to give him all that car control.

Only then can you understand this: They win because they want it more.

Oh, while we're at it, let's get as nitpicky as one of those celebrity gossip shows and treat Johnson's offseason hernia surgery as if it were as big a deal as Peyton Manning's neck surgery a couple of years ago, and act as if Johnson was keeping some humongous secret.

"Any other 'non-secrets' you should definitely tell us about like the hernia stuff?" he was asked.

"When did you have your teeth cleaned?" Johnson countered.

So here we go again. Another stretch of 48 domination on the horizon, another load of baggage Knaus can provide the cars to haul, and that won't hinder Johnson's car control.

And this time it's for a record-tying seventh title, to join Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt.

Let the howling begin.

SportsCenter: Johnson Tames Monster Mile


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