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Gustafson, Knaus sign extensions with Hendrick Motorsports

RICHMOND, Va. (April 30, 2010) – Crew chiefs Alan Gustafson and Chad Knaus have signed multi-year contract extensions with Hendrick Motorsports, the organization confirmed Friday.

During their tenure with Hendrick Motorsports, Gustafson and Knaus have become established crew chiefs in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Their teams finished the 2009 season ranked one-two in the championship standings.

Gustafson, 34, is in his sixth season as crew chief of the No. 5 Chevrolet and has nine wins, 49 top-five finishes, 83 top-10s and 10 pole positions heading into Saturday night’s event at Richmond International Raceway. The Ormond Beach, Fla., native joined Hendrick Motorsports 11 years ago as a chassis shop employee before being moved to the No. 5 team in 2000. He served as the shock specialist for two years and was named the lead engineer of the No. 5 car driven by Terry Labonte in 2002. In 2005, Gustafson took over as crew chief.

With Mark Martin behind the wheel in 2009, the No. 5 team finished second in the Sprint Cup championship standings after posting five wins, 14 top-five finishes, 21 top-10s and seven pole positions—all career-bests for Gustafson.

“I’m extremely happy,” Gustafson said of the extension. “I love this company. I love working for Hendrick Motorsports. I love Rick Hendrick (team owner)—everything he has done for me in my career—and to continue that on into the future is everything I’ve wanted. I truly love what I do.”

Now in his ninth season, Knaus is continuing his record-setting run as crew chief the No. 48 Chevrolet. With four consecutive Sprint Cup championships under his belt, the 38-year-old Rockford, Ill., native has etched his name in NASCAR’s history books. He also has 50 wins, 122 top-five finishes, 186 top-10s and 23 pole positions heading into Saturday’s race at Richmond.

Like Gustafson, Knaus’ NASCAR career began with Hendrick Motorsports. Knaus took his first job with Hendrick in 1993 working with the No. 24 Chevrolet and crew chief Ray Evernham. Knaus did everything from fabricating pieces to changing tires prior to leaving the organization in 1997. He became crew chief for driver Stacy Compton in 2001 before returning to Hendrick Motorsports the following year to establish the No. 48 team with then-rookie Jimmie Johnson.

Since partnering in 2002, Knaus and Johnson have turned into a dynamic duo, winning the most prestigious events on the NASCAR circuit, including the 2006 Daytona 500 and three Brickyard 400s (2006, 2008 and 2009) at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“I’m pretty pleased, obviously,” Knaus said. “I’ve spent the majority of my life at Hendrick Motorsports, since 1993, and I’d have a hard time thinking I would ever go anywhere else. This (No.) 24 team and this (No.) 48 team are very important to me, and I’m glad to be a part of it. I hope I’m here for a long time to come.”