CONCORD, N.C. -- Like everyone else in the NASCAR world, Chad Knaus is ready to get back to the track.
William Byron’s crew chief said racing is like second nature and it should feel like riding a bicycle for the drivers and the crews, even though there will be significant changes.
“We got to get there and everyone’s got to keep their heads on their shoulders for a little bit. … If we do that, we can get going, everyone gets racing and some sense of normalcy will show up pretty quickly on that racetrack,” Knaus said on SiriusXM Radio. “I just hope we can get through the first few laps and everyone be wise and smart and aware of what’s going on.”
The Cups Series returns May 17 at Darlington Raceway but with strict stipulations for safety. There will be no practice laps or qualifying sessions, meaning the first time the drivers will be back in their cars since March will be for the actual race.
Knaus said all the teams simply have to adapt but that he’s thrilled to get going.
“It’s going to be interesting. I’m excited about it,” he said. “William has been very, very active in the virtual racing world and I think that’s a good thing to keep his senses high. From a physical standpoint it’s been pretty tough on these guys. They haven’t been able to get out there and do the things they typically do.”
Knaus said Byron has been working out and plans to go to a go-kart track to get back into the physical feel of driving. He added that the pit crews have been doing group workouts via video chat to physically prepare.
Despite the two-month hiatus, Knaus is confident the No. 24 team won’t skip a beat when the cars hit the track. He praised how the new Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LEs ran during the first four races of the season and with a little strategy, they should be fine at Darlington.
“It’s an interesting venue for sure,” he said. “I feel with the package we got right now … it’s not quite as terrifying as it used to be. It’s still terrifying, don’t get me wrong, but you can get out there and run if you get yourself into a rhythm. You attack the track after that. You don’t want to be too aggressive too early. You can still make good lap time being cautious.”
Byron has mentally been on point with the iRacing and won three of the last four events for the eNASCAR Pro Invitational Series. Knaus said that will come in handy as the No. 24 team gets back in it’s groove.
“I can’t wait to get back to the racetrack,” he said. “We got some amazing sponsors with Axalta and Liberty and Hertz. William is pumped, excited and ready to go. He’s got a couple of iRacing victories … our team is ready and hitting their stride.”