Jimmie Johnson, Chad Knaus and the pantheon of pro sports partners


Four races remain for one of NASCAR’s greatest crew chief-driver duos, and Martinsville Speedway might mark the best hope for one final win by Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus.

The No. 48 Chevrolet has nine victories at the 0.526-mile oval, which ranks Johnson first among active drivers. It’s been 55 starts since the last victory (June 4, 2017 at Dover International Speedway) for the seven-time series champion, who will have Kevin Meendering as crew chief next year as Knaus moves on to lead the team of Hendrick Motorsports teammate William Byron.

In the feature essay above, Sports Illustrated senior writer Tim Layden puts the 17-year partnership in perspective, ranking Johnson and Knaus among the great player-coach tandems such as Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, Michael Jordan and Phil Jackson; and Joe Montana and Bill Walsh.