Chad Knaus through the years
By Staff Report | Thursday, August 5, 2021
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From crew chief to vice president, enjoy this look back at Hendrick Motorsports seven-time champion Chad Knaus' career.
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Jeff Gordon won the Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway in 1995. His teammates wore their "Refuse to Lose" T-shirts in Victory Lane, including tire changer Chad Knaus (left).
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Chad Knaus moved from crew member to crew chief full time in 2001, guiding Stacy Compton's No. 92 Dodge crew for Melling Racing.
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Stacy Compton and Chad Knaus won two poles in their first full season together, both at Talladega Superspeedway.
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Chad Knaus and Jimmie Johnson became a team in 2002, and they started with a bang, putting the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet on the pole for the Daytona 500.
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Nine races later, Chad Knaus and Jimmie Johnson got their first win together in the NAPA Auto Parts 500 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.
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The fiery mix of personalities was there from the start, as well. Team owner Rick Hendrick said Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus "fought like brothers" through their 17 seasons as a driver and crew chief pair. But they also won. A lot.
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Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus won the first of their amazing five consecutive premier-series championships in 2006. They put together three wins, 10 top fives and 20 top 10s.
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In 2007, the pair really blew the competition away with 10 wins -- their best-ever total in a single season -- along with 18 top-five finishes and 22 top 10s.
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Chad Knaus' ability to set up the No. 48 Chevrolet in qualifying trim contributed greatly to Jimmie Johnson's third consecutive championship -- they racked up six poles in 2008, the most of their seasons together.
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On the way to a fourth consecutive title in 2009, Chad Knaus and Jimmie Johnson won at both Charlotte Motor Speedway and Dover International Speedway, where they dominated for more than a decade.
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Chad Knaus became known for his ingenuity, and one of his most famous decisions was swapping pit crew members on the No. 48 team and the No. 24 team in the AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on Nov. 7, 2010. At the time, Jimmie Johnson was running for a title and Jeff Gordon's hopes for a championship had faltered. Pulling out all the stops brought home that fifth consecutive championship for the No. 48 team.
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Winning a championship never gets old. Nor does celebrating one. Cheers to No. 6 in 2013.
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The year 2015 brought big personal news for Chad Knaus as he and Brooke Werner were married in August.
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Jimmie Johnson may have worn the cape for his 77th win that passed Dale Earnhardt's career victory tally, but Chad Knaus' superhuman savvy played into the record, as well, and they broke open champagne at the Auto Club 400 on March 20, 2016 in Fontana, California. Johnson tied Cale Yarborough at 83 career wins -- only two of which came without Knaus.
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And the super duo won another championship in 2016: No. 7 together. Brooke and Chad Knaus posed with the No. 48 Chevrolet under the famous "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign during Champion's Week.
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Big change came early in 2018 as Kip Knaus was born Aug. 28, 2018, expanding the Knaus family to three, just in time for Chad Knaus to get used to working with really young talent as he moved to a pairing with William Byron in 2019.
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In the 2019 season, Chad Knaus returned to the No. 24 Chevrolet team to work with William Byron. The two qualified for the NASCAR Playoffs and posted five pole positions in their first year together.
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William Byron broke through for his first NASCAR Cup Series victory in 2020, prevailing in the regular-season finale at Daytona International Speedway. The win was Chad Knaus' first with someone other than Jimmie Johnson. It also extended his streak of playoff appearances to 17 consecutive seasons.
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Chad Knaus took on a new role in 2021, stepping down from the pit box and up as the vice president of competition for Hendrick Motorsports. Under his watch, Hendrick has been the organization to beat for the bulk of the 2021 regular season as its drivers tallied 10 wins through the first 22 races of the year.