CONCORD, N.C. -- Chad Knaus will dip his toes into endurance racing again this year.
Hendrick Motorsports’ vice president of competition will be an aid throughout the 12 Hours of Sebring at Sebring International Speedway on March 20. He said he personally selected the pit members who will work on the No. 48 Ally Cadillac DPi-V.R that will be driven by Jimmie Johnson, Simon Pagenaud and Kamui Kobayashi.
Knaus said the selected Hendrick Motorsports crew, made up of Scott Honan, Cody French, Mike Hubert, Mike McAndrews and Jamie Frady, all needed to be more than smart or strong to switch from working on Cup Series pit stops to endurance stops.
“The majority of them are from a mechanical background,” Knaus said. “Maybe ex-pit crew members who have the mechanical aptitude of being situationally aware, so I picked those guys because of that. Guys who maybe have driven race cars before, guys who have been on road crews before, guys who built their own cars, things of that nature are why those guys were picked.
“In an endurance race, you just don’t know what’s going to happen. Anything can break, anything can fall off, you can crash – all these things, so you got to be prepared. Mechanical aptitude is pretty high in the decision-making process.”
Johnson, who retired from full-time racing in the NASCAR Cup Series in 2020, now is taking on an INDYCAR road-course schedule and IMSA endurance racing. Knaus was present with Johnson, Chase Elliott and their respective Action Express teams during the Rolex 24 at DAYTONA at the end of January. After the first endurance race of the year, Johnson, Pagenaud and Kobayashi decided they wanted to compete for the IMSA Endurance Cup.
Knaus offered his expertise and help for the upcoming endurance races this year and is content to settle in a supportive role. During the Rolex 24, he aided in calling the race, helped team members communicate over the radio and made some in-race calls.
“I got a couple of guys coffee a few times,” Knaus joked. “I didn’t do a whole lot while I was there. I just tried to help with the communication from Jimmie with the crew chief and the engineer down there. Just tried to help that dialogue a little bit, obviously, because I know Jimmie pretty well. Ian Watt, who is the strategist on that car, was really busy because he was divided between the Nos. 31 and 48, so I was just trying to help anywhere I could from that standpoint.”
Knaus said the selected Hendrick Motorsports crew have had to adjust their mindset as they prepare for the race. Only Honan is a carryover member from the Rolex 24, meaning four teammates are having to adjust to the mechanics of an IMSA pit stop for the first time.
“It’s significantly different from their perspective,” Knaus said. “The pit stops are different; the choreography is different. There’s nobody on the pit crew other than Cody French, who is a brand-new recruit who we got from Arizona State University, who even does active pit stops right now. They’re coming into this cadence of the race that is just a completely different mindset.”
The 12 Hours of Sebring will take place at Sebring International Speedway on March 20. The race will begin at 10:30 a.m. ET and be broadcast on both NBCSN and NBC in varying time slots.