“All these other guys have moved up the track,” Knaus radios to Johnson on lap 75. “Why haven’t you moved up any?”
“I’ve moved up and slowed down two-tenths,” Johnson responds. “So..I came back down.”
Johnson and Knaus have been fighting rumors all season about bad blood between the two, so much so that Johnson has found himself at times defending his chief.
“Crew chiefs live in dog years versus drivers,” Johnson told autoweek.com earlier this year. “I think he’s made that known that his time might expire before mine does, just because of the wear and tear of being a crew chief. I love our entire team and all that it’s made of.”
The 7-time Cup champion has had a bad season statistically, finishing well below his averages. And yet, he entered Sunday’s race with an outside chance to make the finals and go for a record 8th title. Knuas can be heard prodding Johnson to go harder.
“Well, we’ve got to get to work here,” Knaus says.
“10-4. Your radio sounds really bad all of the sudden,” replies Johnson.
“Well then, I’ll just take it off. (Expletive) it,” Knaus shoots back.
Sunday’s race is not going to do anything to slow the rumors of a pending split. Johnson got to lap 150 but no further as he went high on the track after this radio exchange.
“Leaders running up top,” Knaus radios to Johnson.
“How far up top,” came the reply.
“The (expletive) top. Way up top,” Knaus says back.
Johnson then blew a tire and smacked the wall, ending his day and essentially ending a frustrating season.