When the 2009 season started, Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus were still having a tough time trying to get a grip on the handling of their Chevy Impala. With the new Cup car being introduced for the whole season, they were still discovering what others had already found out during testing in the winter at the intermediate tracks.
However, when crunch-time came, No.48 was right there. Looking back, it seemed like during the regular season they were just gearing up for the Chase. While Kyle Busch was doing most of the winning, Johnson was still setting it all up, hitting top form in the 26th week of his racing calendar - just in time to defend his crown and match Cale Yarborough's feat of three consecutive titles 30 years later.
In the short history of the Chase, Johnson has won three out of five. There have been slight revisions to the playoff, but the essence of it remains the same. Bunching up the top contenders for the final ten-week showdown, where basically a new championship starts for them. Johnson has clearly mastered the format, although that's not to say that he wouldn't win under the old points system as well.