(Originally appeared on Oct. 11, 2011 at WRALSportsFan.com)
We're four races into the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup championship and, like clockwork – almost the identical way he's done it the last five years – there's Jimmie Johnson, poised to strike again.
How Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus have been so successful over the last half-decade is a true study in a number of scientific hypotheses. From consistency to human psychology, from sociology to numerology, from biofeedback to, yes, even anthropology.
A little luck helps, sure, but what Johnson and Knaus have accomplished is more than just luck. It continues to defy explanation. I'm not even sure if there ever will be a full explanation of how they continue to do it year after year after year.
Some people say the duo simply peak at the right time. That's too simplistic of an answer, in my mind.
Others say they study the competition and each race track like the most studious football coach studies game film, looking for an edge over the next game's opponent. Then, when they find that edge, they exploit it to the max in their favor.
Yet others say that Johnson and Knaus are, regrettably, cheating and either simply haven't been caught, or are pulling the wool over NASCAR's eyes, but with the sanctioning body's full knowledge. You know, wink-wink, nudge-nudge.
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