Chad Knaus’ time as a crew chief will end at the same time Jimmie Johnson’s tenure as a full-time NASCAR driver does.
Hendrick Motorsports announced Tuesday that Johnson’s longtime crew chief would become the team’s competition director at the end of the season. Knaus’ official title will be the team’s vice president of competition and the team said he “will be responsible for personnel dedicated to the organization’s four NASCAR Cup Series entries, including crew chiefs, pit crews, engineering, fabrication, assembly and other team-related staff.”
After all these years, my competitive desire has not changed at all, but now I have a family that deserves my attention,” Knaus said in a team statement. “This new executive role will allow me to compete in a different way with all four of our teams while spending more time with my wife and two young children. I appreciate the company supporting my decision, and I’m truly excited about the challenge ahead of me to help us grow and win. I’m also looking forward to working closely with Jeff, who I admire and have great respect for. I owe so much to Mr. Hendrick and everyone at Hendrick Motorsports, and I’m ready for the next chapter.”
Johnson announced before the start of the 2020 season that it would be his last full-time season in NASCAR’s Cup Series. Johnson won each of his record-tying seven Cup Series titles with Knaus as his crew chief and hasn’t won a Cup Series race without Knaus in charge of his team.
That success made Johnson and Knaus one of the most iconic driver-crew chief combinations in NASCAR history. Only NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Inman has more championships as a crew chief than Knaus. Inman won seven titles with Richard Petty and one with Terry Labonte.
Knaus will undoubtedly join Johnson in the NASCAR Hall of Fame someday. Johnson will most likely be voted in as soon as he’s eligible to enter in 2023.
Knaus was reassigned by HMS to William Byron’s team after the 2018 season as Johnson was in the midst of a winless streak that dated back to June 2017. That winless streak has continued, while Knaus got his first win as Byron’s crew chief at Daytona in August.
Hendrick said that it would announce Byron’s crew chief at a later date. The four-car team hasn’t announced a replacement driver for Johnson yet either. Byron, Alex Bowman and Chase Elliott are all returning to the team in 2021.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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