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Chad Knaus

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Chad Knaus

Chad Knaus
Knaus in 2004
Personal information
Full name Chad Anthony Knaus
Nationality American
Born (1971-08-05) August 5, 1971
Rockford, Illinois, U.S.
Residence Mooresville, North Carolina, U.S.
Alma mater Thomas Jefferson High School
Occupation Crew Chief, Tire Changer
Years active 1991–present
Country United States
Sport Motor racing
Team Hendrick Motorsports
Achievements and titles
National finals 2006–2010, 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion

Chad Anthony Knaus (; born August 5, 1971) is an American NASCAR crew chief. He is currently employed at Hendrick Motorsports as the crew chief for the No. 48 Sprint Cup Series car, driven by Jimmie Johnson. Knaus has 61 victories as Jimmie Johnson's crew chief and is the only NASCAR crew chief to win five consecutive championships.[1] He has worked in NASCAR since 1991. Over this time, he has worked for four teams: Dale Earnhardt Incorporated, Melling Racing, Tyler Jet Motorsports, and Hendrick Motorsports. He has been a crew chief in NASCAR for 12 years.


  • Early life 1
  • Crew chief career 2
    • Rules violations and suspensions 2.1
  • Outside activities 3
  • Crew chief statistics 4
    • Nationwide Series 4.1
    • Sprint Cup Series 4.2
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Early life

Born in Rockford, Illinois, Knaus grew up around the racetracks of the Midwest helping his father, John, race against the likes of Mark Martin, Alan Kulwicki, Rusty Wallace and Dick Trickle. By the time he was 14, Knaus served as crew chief during his father's Rockford Speedway championship season. The father-son combination also won the Great Northern Series championship and finished second in the NASCAR Winston Racing Series. A few years and seven track championships later, Knaus moved to North Carolina in 1991 to pursue a job in national stock car racing.[2]

After working with Stanley Smith's stock car team, Knaus became employed on the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team led by crew chief Ray Evernham and raced by driver Jeff Gordon. From 1993 to 1997, Knaus advanced from being a general fabricator to managing the entire chassis and body construction program for the No. 24 team. Serving as a rear tire changer on the original Rainbow Warriors pit crew, Knaus was a part of the 1995 and 1997 championship teams.[3]

Following the 1997 season, Knaus joined Dale Earnhardt, Inc. as car chief, where he worked with Steve Park. During the 1998 season, he moved to Tyler Jet Motorsports, and in 1999, the call came that would lead Knaus to Dodge, Melling Racing. Ray Evernham wanted Knaus to lead the Dodge development team, an opportunity he quickly accepted. During two Dodge test sessions, Knaus worked with Melling Racing driver, Stacy Compton. The two worked well together, resulting in Knaus' hire as crew chief for Stacy Compton in 2001.[3]

Crew chief career

After being hired as crew chief for Stacy Compton at Melling Racing, the combination swept the poles at Talladega in 2001 after starting on the front row for the Daytona 500 and qualifying 3rd at Daytona in July. Despite restrictor plate track qualifying prowess, Compton and Knaus scored just one Top 10 (Daytona 500) and 5 Top 15 finishes.

Knaus returned to Hendrick Motorsports for the 2002 season, becoming crew chief of the No. 48 car driven by rookie driver Jimmie Johnson. The team recorded three race wins, six top-five positions, 21 top-ten positions, and four pole positions, two of which were for the Daytona 500 and Aaron's 499.[4] Knaus and Johnson finished the season fifth in the Driver's Championship. In 2003, the No. 48 team finished second in the Driver's Championship after earning two pole positions and winning three races, including the Coca-Cola 600.[5] The team also recorded 14 top-five positions and 20 top ten positions. [3][6]

In 2004, the season began with some early disappointments in weeks two and three at Rockingham and Las Vegas. However, the team quickly rebounded with a week five win at the Carolina Dodge Dealers 400 at Darlington Raceway. Subsequent victories at the Coca-Cola 600 and the Pocono 500 helped solidify their place in the NASCAR Chase for the Cup towards the end of the season. However, poor finishes at Talladega (37th) and Kansas (32nd) nearly ended their chances to win the Nextel Cup, but three consecutive wins, and four in the final six races, put the No. 48 team 18 points behind leader Kurt Busch going into the final race. The second victory at the Subway 500 in Martinsville on October 24, 2004, was marred by tragedy when Rick Hendrick's son, Ricky, nieces and brother were killed in an airplane crash en route to the race. All eight passengers and both pilots died in the incident. The team eventually finished second in the Nextel Cup Series points, losing to Kurt Busch by eight points.

Knaus and Johnson finished the 2005 season ranked fifth in the standings after a crash in the season ending race at Homestead.

In 2006, Johnson and Knaus won their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship with 5 wins, 13 top 5s, and 24 top 10s.

In 2007 Knaus and Johnson took home their second straight championship with a series best 10 wins. Hendrick Motorsports was the dominant team in 2007, amassing 18 wins in 36 races. Knaus and Johnson led the Hendrick charge that saw the championship battle come down to a race between themselves and teammate Jeff Gordon.

In 2008 Knaus and Johnson tied NASCAR history with three straight championships set by Cale Yarborough. The Lowe's Racing team had 7 wins, 15 top-fives, 22 top-tens, and 6 poles.

Knaus and his team working on Jimmie Johnson's car at Bristol Motor Speedway

In 2009 Knaus shared 13 top-fives, 20 top-tens, 6 wins, and 1 DNF with his driver Jimmie Johnson.[7]

Rules violations and suspensions

Knaus's first suspension, for two races, came in March 2001 for a seatbelt violation at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. It was notable because it was the first safety violation in the wake of Dale Earnhardt's death. Knaus appealed, but lost, returning at Texas three weeks later.

While working for Hendrick Motorsports, Knaus was accused of cheating after Jimmie Johnson's 2006 Daytona 500 qualifying run. He had made an illegal adjustment to the rear window, which resulted in his suspension from Sprint Cup events until March 22. Despite the loss of his crew chief (and having to start from the rear of the field in a backup car), Johnson won both the Daytona 500 and two of the first three races overall with interim crew chief Darian Grubb.[8]

Knaus again found himself at the center of controversy during the road race debut of NASCAR's Car of Tomorrow. On June 23, 2007 the #24 crew (chiefed by Steve Letarte) and the #48 crew entered the inspection line for the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway with the newest body style out of the Hendrick shop. While both cars fit the templates, NASCAR officials questioned the shape of the fenders in between the template points.[2] Johnson was not allowed to qualify the car and started at the back of the field. Knaus was fined $100,000 and was suspended for six races.[9]

In February 2012, Knaus was once again accused by NASCAR officials of a rules violation involving the #48 car of Jimmie Johnson after it failed pre-race inspection for the Daytona 500. NASCAR issued penalties: Knaus and #48 car chief Ron Malec were suspended six races each, Knaus was fined $100,000, and driver Jimmie Johnson docked 25 driver points.[10] On March 20, 2012, the chief appellate officer of NASCAR rescinded the suspensions and the docked driver points but left the financial penalty in place.[11]

Outside activities

Knaus was a regular commentator on NASCAR Performance, a program that was broadcast each race weekend on Speed. Each program provided a crew chief perspective on stock car racing. Knaus has also appeared in several television commercials for Kobalt Tools by Lowe's, the primary sponsor of the No. 48 car. He also voices the crew chief in NASCAR games which include NASCAR 08 and NASCAR 09 on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.[12]

Crew chief statistics

Nationwide Series

Year Driver Races Wins Poles Top 5 Top 10 DNFs Position
2004 Jimmie Johnson 1 0 0 1 1 0 98th
2005 2 0 0 1 1 0 53rd
2006 1 0 0 0 1 0 84th
Totals 4 0 0 2 3 0 [6]

Sprint Cup Series

Year Driver Races Wins Poles Top 5 Top 10 DNFs Position
2000 Stacy Compton 1 0 0 0 0 1 38th
2001 31 0 2 0 1 7 33rd
2002 Jimmie Johnson 36 3 4 6 21 3 5th
2003 36 3 2 14 20 3 2nd
2004 36 8 1 20 23 7 2nd
2005 36 4 1 13 22 5 5th
2006 32 3 1 10 20 1 1st
2007 32 10 4 18 22 4 1st
2008 36 7 10 16 22 1 1st
2009 35 7 3 14 21 1 1st
2010 36 6 3 17 23 4 1st
2011 36 2 0 14 21 2 6th
2012 36 5 3 18 24 6 3rd
2013 36 6 3 16 24 1 1st
2014 36 4 1 11 20 4 11th
2015* 16 4 0 2 9 0 7th
Totals 494 72 38 198 286 50 [6][13]
  • - Suspended by NASCAR for multiple races.
  • - Car was victorious two other times, but Knaus was suspended at the time.
  • * - Season in progress.


  1. ^ "All Time NASCAR Sprint Cup Winners". 31 October 2010. Retrieved 31 October 2010. 
  2. ^ "Rockford Speedway is a "NASCAR home track"; Kevin Ramsell; March 6, 2007; Retrieved October 22, 2007
  3. ^ a b c "Chad Knaus Biography". Hendrick Motorsports. Retrieved February 20, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Rookie Johnson wins second pole at Talladega". CNN. April 29, 2002. Retrieved February 20, 2012. 
  5. ^ "Johnson scrambles from back of pack to win Coca-Cola 600". Sports Illustrated. May 25, 2003. Retrieved February 20, 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c "Chad Knaus Statistics". Retrieved February 20, 2012. 
  7. ^ "2009 Cup Jimmie Johnson". Retrieved 31 October 2010. 
  8. ^ "Knaus ejected from Daytona Speedweeks". 5 March 2010. Retrieved 6 March 2010. 
  9. ^ "Gordon, Johnson fail initial qual inspection at Sonoma", June 22, 2007, David Caraviello, Retrieved September 7, 2007
  10. ^ "NASCAR suspends Chad Knaus for six races". Associated Press via KTVO-TV. 2012-02-29. Retrieved 2012-02-29. 
  11. ^ Pockrass, Bob (March 20, 2012). "Hendrick wins appeal; Chad Knaus suspension, Jimmie Johnson points penalty rescinded". Retrieved August 30, 2015. 
  12. ^ Saxton, Ernie (December 9, 2011). "Chad Knaus to be Part of Motorsports 2012 Race Car Show". Short Track Action. Retrieved March 28, 2013. 
  13. ^ "Crew chief statistics - Chad Knaus". Race Retrieved February 20, 2012. 

External links

  • Chad Knaus crew chief statistics at Racing-Reference
  • Team Lowe's Racing
  • Hendrick Motorsports
  • NASCAR Performance
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