|Championship trio: Hendrick, Knaus and Johnson|
“I think it’s just more tension,” he said afterwards. “I don’t know how it could get any harder than it is right now. It's nerves. It's not going to end. I think it's going to be the last lap at Homestead, unless one of them has a major failure early in Phoenix, and then the other guy’s just got to finish in the Top 10. But I don't see that happening. I think this is just going to be a dog fight there. The teams are that close. We qualify close together. We race close together.”
The team heads to Phoenix with the same seven point lead it held in 2012. Last year problems for the No. 48 in the final two races opened the door for Brad Keselowski to win his first championship. Hendrick thinks his team is better as a result of that experience.
“Last year we were in this position and we didn't do it. It fired us up. It fired Jimmie and Chad (Knaus) up. But they can't work any harder. I think they're as good as they've ever been and maybe better because they're seasoned. Now they've lost it a couple of years in a row and they want it bad this year. They're doing everything in their power, preparation, cars at the shop, at the track, engine guys, everybody is working as hard as they can.
“I think we're in the position. Now we only have to not make a mistake and hopefully we can just race without any kind of failure.”
And if the team does make a mistake and Matt Kenseth wins the championship?
“I'm just thankful we're competitive and we've won races. I think you do the best you can and you show up. If we don't win, I can handle that. I mean, we did the best we could. We weren't searching for speed. We weren't searching for horsepower or handling. We were right there, led laps with everybody and anybody.
“So at the end of the day, I just accept it and go on and get ready for next year.”