Open Policy Successful At Hendrick

The battle for the 2007 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup championship culminating this weekend isn't secluded to the track. It's also in the pit boxes, as Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon's crew chiefs get set for one final showdown between two of the friendliest teams in the series.

Gordon, and his No. 24 team led by Steve Letarte, head into Sunday's Ford 400 with an 86-point deficit behind Johnson and his No. 48 team led by Chad Knaus. They are the only two teams left that are mathematically eligible to win the championship and the drivers are some of the closest teammates in the series, with Gordon having helped launch Johnson's career, as well as co-owning the No. 48 car.

The goodwill between the 24 and 48 teams extends well beyond these drivers as Hendrick Motorsports has a policy of sharing car information among all four of its teams. Both team's success this season, as well as that of Kyle Busch's and Casey Mears', is testament to how working together lifts the whole organization to the best position possible.

"We always share everything," Letarte said of the four teams. "It's a complete open book. It's the way the company's set up. It's the way our engineering is set up. It's the way Chad and I work. All four cars are an open book to one another from week one at Daytona testing all the way to the final laps at Homestead. We share air pressures during the race, pit strategies, setup information all weekend along.

"It definitely doesn't change when we get into the Chase. If anything, it gets a little bit tighter. We go out of our way a little bit more in the Chase to make sure we understand what each of us has so we know come the end of the race, we both knew what each other had and what we were going against."

Knaus and Letarte take every chance to laud the team's sharing policy and how it's helped make the organization as a whole stronger.

"We don't have a 48 team and we don't have a 24 team," Knaus said. "We've got to go into Homestead with two cars that are prepared to run up front, qualify up front, and hopefully battle for the win. And whatever happens during the race on Sunday is what happens. If one of us is fortunate enough to win the race, that's great. If not, then we've fallen a little bit short. If the 24 wins the championship and the 48 doesn't, then that's great for the 24. If the 48 wins and the 24 doesn't, then that's great for the 48."

The strength of both teams has been apparent all season long. Both drivers have had tremendously successful seasons in 2007. Each heads into the season finale with 20 top-five finishes. Gordon is aiming for a record-breaking 30th top-10 finish, while Johnson is trying for his fifth straight victory to add to his 10 victories this season.

"To win the championship would be great. To win five in a row would be great. To close out the season and win the championship with five victories in a row would be phenomenal," Knaus said. "We've got our sites set on that. Hopefully we can have ourselves in position to do that and have a car capable of doing that. If not, we'll get the best finish that we possibly can and hopefully come out with the championship."

Whichever team ends up on top, the whole organization has already accomplished its goals for the season of winning another championship for Rick Hendrick. He will celebrate his seventh team championship after the finish of Sunday's Ford 400. And regardless of which team is the victor, the whole organization will be celebrating.

Related Topics:

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup, 2007

Next MRN Broadcast

Upcoming Cup Broadcasts

© 2017 MRN. All Rights Reserved

FacebookTwitterDiggDeliciousLinkedInGoogle BookmarksYahoo BookmarksLive (MSN)

ISC Track Sites