|credit: NASCAR via Getty Images/Jared C. Tilton|
Crew chief Chad Knaus is best known for his time and championships with five-time Sprint Cup titlist Jimmie Johnson, but he’s been working as a crew chief since the age of 14. Find out more about Knaus in this week’s Fast Facts.
- Chad Anthony Knaus was born August 5, 1971 in Rockford, Illinois. His first exposure to auto racing was with his father, John, who raced in the Midwest against drivers like Mark Martin, Rusty Wallace, Alan Kulwicki and Dick Trickle. At age 14, Knaus won his first championship as a crew chief, guiding his father to the track championship at Rockford Speedway in Illinois. The duo teamed up for seven track championships before Knaus got the itch to move up in stock car racing.
- In 1991, Knaus moved to North Carolina, eventually taking a job with Stanley Smith’s racing team in Alabama. In 1993, Knaus moved to Hendrick Motorsports, working with Ray Evernham on the No. 24 of Jeff Gordon. Between 1993 and 1997, Knaus worked his way up the ladder from general fabricator to management of the chassis and body construction program from the team; he also served as a tire changer on Gordon’s pit crew, winning championships in 1995 and 1997.
- After stints at Dale Earnhardt Inc. and Tyler Jet Motorsports, Knaus moved on to Dodge’s development team at the request of Evernham in 1999. He worked with Casey Atwood in 2000, then earned his first Cup Series crew chief role with Melling Racing and driver Stacy Compton for the 2001 season. The pair qualified in the top three for all four restrictor plate races that season (two at Daytona and two at Talladega), but produced only one top 10 finish that season.
- In 2002, Knaus returned to Hendrick Motorsports as crew chief for their new rookie, Johnson. After a rookie season with three wins, 21 top 10 finishes and four poles, the new duo finished fifth in points. The next two seasons, the No. 48 team finished second in points, followed by a fifth-place finish in 2005.
- 2006 marked the first of five straight championships for the duo, who have teamed up for more than 60 wins in Cup Series competition. Through their first 11 full-time seasons (2002-2012), Johnson has never finished worse than sixth in points.
- Knaus has also been the center of controversy in the Cup Series a number of times. His first suspension – two races – came in 2001 for a seat belt violation at Atlanta. He was also suspended for four races in February 2006 following qualifying for the Daytona 500 (Johnson went on to win the race with Darian Grubb as crew chief), and again in June 2007 for four races after the team’s new Car of Tomorrow body style was questioned by NASCAR officials. In February 2012, Knaus was up against NASCAR once again as the No. 48 didn't pass pre-race inspection for the Daytona 500; Knaus was originally suspended for six races and fined $100,000 – NASCAR later rescinded his suspension but Knaus was left to pay the financial penalty.
- Learn more about Knaus and the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet team at www.lowesracing.com and www.hendrickmotorsports.com.