CONCORD, N.C. -- Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion crew chief Chad Knaus is about to become a two-time father.
In anticipation of the birth of his second child, Knaus will miss Thursday night’s Cup race at Kansas Speedway. He and wife Brooke are expecting the new addition – a little girl – any day now. Their son, Kip, was born in August 2018.
"Originally, this was going to be a stretch of back-to-back off weekends for us and everything was going to go to plan so I could be home for those two weeks," Knaus said. "Unfortunately, we now have two races in one week due to the shift in the schedule from the pandemic. Either way, we still have a great plan in place so that I get to be by Brooke’s side, and we can welcome our baby girl together."
With Knaus on baby watch, veteran crew chief Keith Rodden will call the shots for William Byron and the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro team at Kansas.
"We have a lot of depth to pull from in this situation at Hendrick Motorsports, and I know Keith is more than capable of getting the job done," Knaus said. "I have all the faith that it will be a solid race for him and the No. 24 team."
Rodden has called 138 NASCAR Cup Series races as a crew chief for drivers Jamie McMurray and Kasey Kahne, who he led to victory for Hendrick Motorsports at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2017. Coincidentally, that crown jewel win fell on July 23 – the same date of Thursday night’s race at Kansas Speedway.
"I’m super pumped to get to the track again and help out Chad, William and the No. 24 team," Rodden said. "Being present for the birth of your child is important, especially in the world we are in now. That's a moment you don't want to take for granted. Myself and everyone at Hendrick Motorsports support Chad and his family 100% in whatever they need."
Rodden, who also won the 2014 NASCAR All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway with McMurray, has been the No. 24 team’s designated backup as Hendrick Motorsports planned for Knaus’ potential absence.
"I've known Chad for years, and our communication with each other is great," Rodden said. "I’ve also been working with William and the No. 24 team the last several weeks in anticipation of this moment. I'm looking forward to the opportunity to step in and represent Axalta and Hendrick Motorsports. I want to get the best possible result, but the ultimate goal is to show up to win and bring a trophy back for Chad and his family."
Byron is happy for Knaus and confident in Rodden, who has called seven Cup Series races at Kansas and led Kahne to a fourth-place finish there in 2015.
“I’m excited for Chad and Brooke on having their second child,” Byron said. "This is an important moment for them as a family. While we will miss Chad at the track on Thursday, I know that Keith will do a good job taking over during his absence.
"No matter the situation, the goal remains the same for the No. 24 team and we’re all committed to it.”
Catch all the action from Kansas Speedway on Thursday, July 23, at 7:30 p.m. ET live on NBCSN, MRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.