Jimmie Johnson believes it would benefit Hendrick Motorsports to be selfish when it comes to sharing equipment and data with other teams.
Johnson shared the belief while addressing whether he thought Hendrick should try to lure another Sprint Cup team to buy its engines and chassis and fill the void left by Stewart-Haas Racing, which will move to Ford in 2017 after being aligned with Hendrick’s Chevrolets for several years.
Chip Ganassi Racing also uses engines built by Hendrick, which has a multimillion-dollar business as a supplier.
“It’s tricky,” Johnson said Friday at Kansas Speedway. “If (owner Rick) Hendrick can raise the money to not have that relationship, I think for us, selfishly it is better not to.”
Johnson detailed how Hendrick sometimes gets the short end of the sharing arrangement with SHR.
“Just to be selfishly speaking on Hendrick Motorsports, the Stewart-Haas relationship, we didn’t get their data,” he said. “We didn’t share their data. They had ours. So it was a fantastic situation for them. They had our best stuff, and then they have a huge engineering staff, and they can take Hendrick’s best equipment and refine it and make it better.”
Hendrick general manager Doug Duchardt clarified Johnson’s point of view after practice, noting that the information exchange between Hendrick and Stewart-Haas flowed much more freely until this season.
“The relationship from a data standpoint was a two-way relationship,” Duchardt said. “They received our information. We received their information. That’s the way it had worked from the time I’d been at Hendrick Motorsports (in 2005). Obviously, the beginning of this year, when they made their announcement to Ford, that changed things. The bottom line is as partners, we exchanged data between each other.
“For sure, this year, they haven’t gotten (our data), and we haven’t gotten theirs. So that got shut off before Daytona.”
Johnson likened his team’s situation to the alliance between Joe Gibbs Racing and Furniture Row Racing, which joined together this season. Furniture Row Racing is a one-car team that has four wins this season with Martin Truex Jr. Johnson’s three wins this year are the only victories for Hendrick while Stewart-Haas Racing, another four-car team, has five wins.
Johnson said Stewart-Haas also was strengthened by the addition of Kevin Harvick and crew chief Rodney Childers in 2014, bringing the team its second Sprint Cup title.
“Before Rodney Childers and Kevin Harvick were at Stewart-Haas it worked pretty good for us,” Johnson said. “We had a bunch of income for the company, didn’t have to worry about racing for wins or championships against the Stewart-Haas equipment, but those guys changed the game and bringing Kurt Busch and Tony (Stewart) himself and all that is there you start questioning the relationship and if it really is the right thing, especially, with us not sharing the data.”
Johnson made similar comments at the Chase for the Sprint Cup media day in September, saying these type of relationships between team are “a slippery slope.”
“I understand the business dynamic, but it’s tricky,” Johnson said in September. “It hurts to be outrun by somebody in your equipment. But Ganassi, as well. They’re a big company with a lot of smart people, and we’re handing them a race-winning package that they’re then making better.”
Johnson said Friday that Hendrick “would always like to have some people running our engines and trying to do durability stuff on new motors that are coming out.”
The six-time champion pointed out there likely always will be smaller teams using Hendrick equipment, “but a team at that high of caliber (of Stewart-Haas Racing), I believe we would look really hard before we made that decision again.”