Knaus says the high regard each has for the other's abilities and dedication is the key to their success.
"We simply trust each other," he says. "We each know the other one will give 100 percent."
Knaus says he and Johnson "came up together" in Nextel Cup so all they really know how to do is work together.
"I can't compare him to anyone else," says Knaus, "because I've never worked like this with anyone else."
Borland and Newman are in much the same position. They entered NASCAR's top series as a team and have been together ever since. In 2003 the duo nailed down 11 pole positions and eight victories, more than any other driver that year.
Last year, Newman took the pole nine times and finished the season with a pair of victories. He ended 2004 Seventh in points.
"The difference wasn't so much luck as what we did in the team," Borland says of the 2003 vs. the 2004 results.
In 2003 we got caught up in wrecks that we didn't have any part in causing," he says. "In 2004 I made some bad calls on pit road that lost us track position and we could never get it back."
So how does a team recover from a weekend when they begin on the pole but finish among the back markers?
"Trust," says Borland. "I trust Ryan is doing what's right in the car, and he trusts me to do the best job I know how in the pits. That doesn't mean we don't [make] mistakes. We do and we pay for them. But it is the mutual trust that allows us to finish badly in one race and begin planning to win next Sunday."
They look at what went wrong, decide how to insure it won't happen again, and move on, Borland says.
"Even if we win, we still look at what we could have done better," he adds.
"Matt and I have been together for four years, and in all that time I can honestly say we've never had an argument," Newman says. "We may not always agree on everything, but we never really disagree. The key is to work on a problem and find a solution."
It is a system that makes them a threat to win every time the trailer door opens on the Alltel transporter.
"I don't know what they've got," says Brian Vickers, "But I'd sure like some of it. When they dominate qualifying like they do, they leave the rest of us second guessing what we are doing wrong."
"What do we have different from other teams?" Newman asks.
"It's no secret, and I don't mean this in a negative way about other teams, but I think for us the big difference is education," says Newman.
Borland and Newman each have engineering degrees. Their team has more engineers with degrees than any other outfit in the NASCAR garage.
"We have this same approach to solving problems," Newman says. "I still drive by seat of the pants. That's where I get the feel of the car."
But it is the engineer's approach to translating those sensations into lap times that is the foundation of his success. That may come in handy this season as teams cope with the results of racing cars with an inch less rear spoiler and reduced downforce.
"Those are the types of things that really test a team," says Borland. "You have to begin thinking differently than before, and what solved problems last year may not work under the new rules."
"I really think the new spoiler rule will help open wheel drivers," Newman says with a grin. "But in the past few years we've done OK."
They've done more than OK. They've done just about everything but win a championship.
"Every day is different, and the people and the job keep changing. We learn more about the job and about each other. The trust gets built up gradually," Borland explains.
"Ryan has to be able to get into that car and believe that when he drives into a turn, no nuts and bolts are going to fall off, and the thing is as good as we can make it. And we have to trust that when he tells us something we did needs to be changed, he knows what he's feeling and what he's talking about."