Position: Crew Chief
Since entering the world of racing, Chad Knaus has helped rewrite the record book for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series crew chiefs. Entering his 12th year at the helm of Hendrick Motorsports’ No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, Knaus has led driver Jimmie Johnson to 11 top-six points finishes, including a historic five consecutive Sprint Cup Series titles from 2006 to 2010.
In 2008, Knaus became the only crew chief in NASCAR history to earn three consecutive championships. Knaus’ five overall championships are second all-time behind Dale Inman’s eight.
Rockford, Ill., native Knaus and his team earned five wins, 18 top-five and 24 top-10 finishes during the 2012 season. With Knaus calling the shots, Johnson once again qualified for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. He is the only driver to make the Chase every year since its inception in 2004.
Entering the 2013 season, the Knaus-Johnson duo has teamed up for 399 Sprint Cup starts with a record that includes 60 wins, 29 poles, 166 top-five and 248 top-10 results. His tenure with Johnson is currently the longest driver-crew chief combination in the series.
Knaus’ rise to the top started like most modern-day crew chiefs. Born in Illinois, his introduction to racing was immediate as he followed his father, John, around the local Midwest tracks, helping out when he could and anxiously watching when he couldn’t.
Knaus’ desire for racing continued throughout his adolescence. At age 14, his future success in NASCAR was foreshadowed when he served as crew chief for his father. That year, the elder Knaus captured the Rockford (Ill.) Speedway championship with his son calling the shots from the pits. The father-son combination went on to many more victories, capturing the NASCAR Great Northern Series championship and finishing second in the Winston Racing Series.
Chad Knaus’ ascent began after high school graduation. Spurred on by his success in the Midwest with his father, Knaus moved to North Carolina in search of more racing glory.
Working for his uncle, Knaus held a steady job but couldn’t break into the elite ranks of racing. He was even offered a job as a corporate engineer but decided that racing was his true calling. A trip back to Illinois was brief, and he moved in 1991 to Alabama to work for Stanley Smith’s stock car team as a mechanic and fabricator.
In 1993, Knaus’ determination paid off. The No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team led by crew chief Ray Evernham and driver Jeff Gordon called, and Knaus answered. From 1993 to 1998, Knaus assumed a variety of duties. He started in the body shop as an assistant, gradually working his way through the ranks to the fabrication department. Eventually, he was put in charge of the body development for the No. 24 car and served as a tire changer for the team, proving an integral part of the 1995 and 1997 championship efforts.
After the 1997 season, Knaus reluctantly left Hendrick Motorsports seeking further advancement in the sport. The organization was stocked with a solid staff, but Rick Hendrick vowed that he would one day bring back Knaus.
Knaus spent the next few years gaining valuable experience throughout the industry. He initially joined Dale Earnhardt, Inc., as a car chief for driver Steve Park. From there, he teamed up with new team owner Evernham and helped Casey Atwood with his limited run in the Sprint Cup Series in 2000. The following year, Knaus began working as crew chief with Melling Racing driver Stacy Compton, winning several speedway poles.
The desire to return to Hendrick Motorsports proved too much. Knaus rejoined the organization in 2002 as crew chief for Johnson and the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet.
Date of BirthAug 05, 1971
Current ResidenceMooresville, N.C.
03/16/2014 No. 48 Team Next Race Paint Scheme