Chad Knaus' Championship Fire Still Burns

Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs

For five straight years Chad Knaus was the championship-winning crew chief in Sprint Cup. His name is written in history alongside that of driver Jimmie Johnson. But this year 2011 marks the first year Knaus won’t be the champion; his triumphant seasons are over. But you wonder, is Knaus done for? Has he been dethroned? Or is this recent loss just the fire Knaus needs?

The 2011 season wasn’t a great season for the five-time champ and the No. 48 Lowes team. There were a lot of up and downs for half the season; many even wondered if Knaus and Johnson had lost their spark. It seemed to some fans that Knaus and Johnson fought more than anything.

But even with the bickering came two wins: one at Talladega, which was the closest finish in NASCAR history, as well as their Kansas win.

Even with two wins, 14 top-fives, and 21 top-10s, it still wasn’t enough to make it six in a row. It makes you wonder: a man like Chad Knaus does not like to lose, and losing this championship could very well be adding to his internal fire.

In 2005 Johnson lost the championship, and Knaus was very fired up from that loss. They won the championship in 2006 and well the rest is history after that. But it has to make you wonder: does this loss have Knaus fired up? 

You can never be too sure about how losing affects people. Sometimes losing makes a person more driven and adds an edge to them. Knaus is one of those people; when he loses he looks to find ways to step up the game. He looks and sees what they can do to fix it and that is why he is a championship-winning crew chief. His drive and his passion are all great characteristics of a champion.

When a driver loses, the crew chief is the one who really takes the loss the hardest. Their job may seem easy to some, but being the person to make the final call on the car is nothing of the sorts. Any call Knaus makes or decides during a race can have a positive or negative outcome. And if that outcome is negative, you can bet no one feels worse about it than Knaus.

For five years it’s always been about Jimmie Johnson winning five in a row, yet no one seems to mention Chad Knaus all that much; it seems people only focus on the driver than the crew chief. The crew chief doesn’t get the recognition he deserves a lot of the time. Face it, without a crew chief, your driver couldn’t very well race, let alone win.

The 2011 season is over and 2012 slowly makes it way up the mountain. What’s in store for 2012? Well that’s a mystery yet to be unveiled. As for Knaus, his winning streak ended but the fire of a champion still burns within, and for someone like Knaus, well, that fire isn’t even close to being out yet!

Knaus recently spoke about 2011 and how thankful he is to be a part of Hendrick Motorsports, and how 2012 is just around the corner: “Obviously it is disappointing, we really thought that coming into this season we were going to be in title contention again, and we honestly should have been. Our cars are running really fast, even today our car was plenty fast and in the top-five, but we just had some unfortunate racing situations happen and it took us out of it. That is part of racing and we understand that.

"We have had a fantastic run, to be able to win five championships back to back, with this Lowe’s team with Jimmie (Johnson) and Hendrick motorsports and it has been an honor. I have to thank everybody that has been a part of the No. 48 team past, present and future ones as well. We have had a really good run, a lot of dedication, a lot of hard work from everybody at Hendrick Motorsports to do what we did. It is sad that the season is over with but in just a few more weeks we will be at it again.”

Just 66 days until the Daytona 500 – I think Chad and Jimmie both will be ready to get back their fire by then.
Chad Knaus' Championship Fire Still Burns Chad Knaus' Championship Fire Still Burns Reviewed by Lacy Page on Wednesday, December 21, 2011 Rating: 5