If he had his choice, Jimmie Johnson believes Hendrick Motorsports should be more selfish and not enter into a technical alliance with another Chevrolet-backed team once Stewart-Haas Racing defects to Ford at the end of the season.
Johnson's comments were made earlier Friday at Kansas Speedway, and included the six-time Sprint Cup champion saying the alliance between Hendrick and SHR, co-owned by Gene Haas and Tony Stewart, is one-sided. Johnson said SHR has not been forthright in sharing technical data with Hendrick, which supplies SHR with engines, chassis and other equipment.
"Selfishly speaking, [Hendrick] didn't get [SHR's] data," Johnson said. "We didn't share their data, they had ours. So it was a fantastic situation for them. They had our best stuff and then they have a huge engineering staff and they can take Hendrick's best equipment and refine it and make it better."
Shortly after Johnson's remarks, Hendrick general manager Doug Duchardt clarified the working relationship between the two teams. Duchardt said SHR had been openly sharing data with Hendrick since SHR's formation in 2009, but that information exchange was halted by mutual agreement upon SHR announcing in February it would switch to Ford for the 2017 season.
"We received information from Stewart-Haas when we worked with them," Duchardt said. "Obviously, when they made their announcement to Ford that changed things. But the bottom line is that as partners we exchanged data between each other."
Duchardt emphasized that despite SHR's impending jump to a rival manufacturer, Hendrick had continued supplying SHR with engines and chassis and will do so through the duration of the season. That includes the Chase for the Sprint Cup playoff where Johnson and SHR's Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch are among the dozen drivers vying for the championship.
"Anything that Stewart-Haas has asked us to build for them this year we have built and we have built it to their specifications," Duchardt said. "We continue to build cars and components for them as they go through the Chase."
Although Hendrick also supplies engines to other Sprint Cup teams, including Chip Ganassi Racing and HScott Motorsports, its alliance with SHR had been close-knit where the two organizations essentially operated as one super team. Johnson has won three series championships since 2009, with Harvick and Stewart capturing one apiece.
Whether Hendrick will have such a partnership with a different team next year like it had with SHR is undecided. But if Johnson had his choice, Hendrick would remain independent.
"We would always like to have some people running our engines and trying to do durability stuff on new motors that are coming out," Johnson said. "I would imagine having a couple of cars out there, we will always have that.
"But, a team at that high of caliber again, I believe we would look really hard before we made that decision again."