There was no steely-eyed confidence in Chad Knaus Sunday after Texas. The usual optimism was absent from the crestfallen face of Jimmie Johnson, as the ESPN crew caught up with them in the darkness among the haulers. A 9th place finish isn't all that bad, a manageable points deficit of 33 behind new leader Denny Hamlin, a surging team which was wearing cowboy hats and 6 shooters while Chad and Jimmie tried to choke back tears in front of the camera.
Chad Knaus, in spite of his occasional crossing the line, is a cool customer with laser guided bomb precision. But Sunday he blew it, and probably with it the 48 team's chance at an unprecedented 5th straight Cup.
After a couple bad pit stops which cost the 48 track position, he sacked the 48 pit crew in favor of the newly available 24 crew. The 24 crew did a fine job, a better job than the 48 crew had done, but the bed was made, and now Chad must lie in it.
You've heard of the law of unintended consequences. Chad is suddenly well aware of this law. I get what he was trying to do, win the race or at least improve the 48 points position. But what he actually accomplished is cutting off at the knees one of the best pit crews on pit road, with a vote of no confidence from their leader and coach. Like your dad taking you off the mound and handing the ball to your little brother.
Maybe if this was the last race of the season and you have to throw the Hail Mary. But this was the 3rd race from the end, they were running top 10, and basically even in points with the 11 all day. You might think about benching Peyton Manning in the 4th quarter of the Super Bowl if he had a disastrous game, but you sure wouldn't bench him in the 3rd quarter of the wild card game, down by 1 TD, just because he threw his 2nd INT.
So now the inferior 24 crew will pit the 48 for the remaining 2 races. I'm not surprised this "permanent" change had to be made. But Chad panicked under pressure. I am surprised.