CONCORD, N.C. – Chad Knaus had big aspirations when he came to Hendrick Motorsports in 1993. 

"I had a plan and I had a desire," Knaus said. "I had some goals I wanted to meet when I was young and when you are in your early 20s you always have lofty goals. I always wanted to be a crew chief. I always wanted to win races. I always wanted to win a championship. I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to achieve a lot of those goals, but never thought I would be in a position to win seven championships or to get the amount of victories that we were able to get."

Knaus' big goals turned into reality throughout a 21-year crew chief career that will be celebrated on Friday night as part of the three-person Class of 2024 of the NASCAR Hall of Fame at the Charlotte Convention Center. The seven-time winning crew chief will be honored alongside driver Jimmie Johnson, with whom he teamed up to win those titles, as well as driver Donnie Allison. 

PHOTOS: Chad Knaus' historic career at Hendrick Motorsports

"One of the neatest things was being able to be at the Hall of Fame when the announcement came out," Knaus said. "(NASCAR President) Steve Phelps was talking and to hear Jimmie’s name being inducted from the first ballot was awesome. To see the look on his face and to be sitting next to him. Then, for me to get it, see his eyes look at me and you are both like, ‘Man this is real.’ It’s an honor. Jimmie is an amazing individual and a stand-up guy. He’s taught me an awful lot about life, an awful lot about living and to be able to go through this phase with him is a true honor. Looking forward to it."

From 2002 to 2018, the Knaus-Johnson pairing produced 81 points-paying wins and a record-tying seven championships, including five consecutive from 2006 to 2010 in the NASCAR Cup Series. The seven championships match the Hall of Fame driver-crew chief duo of Richard Petty and Dale Inman. Their 81 wins are the second most for a driver-crew chief pairing. It is hard to think about one without the other. 

"I’m very proud of what we accomplished," Johnson said. "The fact that we get to enjoy this moment and relive all those memories going into the Hall together makes this all the more special."

Hendrick Motorsports vice chairman Jeff Gordon had a front-row seat to their excellence. He was a full-time teammate of theirs from 2002 to 2015 and a competitor as well, finishing second in the 2007 standings to the Knaus-Johnson-led No. 48 team. 

"They didn’t just do it once or twice, it was year after year after year," Gordon said. "Once they got on that roll, they just didn’t stop. You kept saying no way they do it again. It is just not possible and yet they did. That just goes to show you how much trust there was with that team, and how much drive and passion that they had. They were not only willing to take the resources and make the most of them here. They were willing to continue to outwork their competitors and push the limits of themselves every year, which inevitably pushed their competitors too and still come out on top."  

Bringing his Hendrick Motorsports career full circle, Knaus worked with driver William Byron on the No. 24 team in 2019 and 2020. Knaus was on the No. 24 when he was hired by Ray Evernham in 1993 – starting in the body shop and rising to be in charge of body development in the fabrication shop. Eventually, he became a tire changer on the Rainbow Warriors pit crew, winning championships with Evernham and Gordon in 1995 and 1997. After departing to work as a car chief and crew chief at other organizations, Knaus returned to Hendrick Motorsports in 2002 to work with Johnson in his rookie season for the organization’s fourth Cup Series team – the No. 48.

PHOTOS: Chad Knaus, Jimmie Johnson earn call to the Hall

With Byron, Knaus earned his final win as a crew chief in the 2020 summer race at Daytona International Speedway. His 82 wins atop the pit box rank third all-time among crew chiefs. He is the sixth crew chief to reach the NASCAR Hall of Fame, joining Ray Evernham, Inman, Leonard Wood, Waddell Wilson and Kirk Shelmerdine.

Each member of the Hall of Fame has a display that features career highlights, mementos and items of personal significance. As Knaus was preparing the contents of his Hall capsule, memories came rushing back to him. 

"We are going to have a cool display out there that is a little bit unique, which is fun," Knaus said. "Some of the stuff sunk in pretty heavily as we were going through some of the old artifacts and things that I captured over the years. It will be really neat to see all of that stuff displayed."

RELATED: Chad Knaus looks back on some of his biggest wins as a crew chief

During his 21-year career as a crew chief, Knaus was known for his tireless work ethic, meticulous attention to detail and constant pursuit of perfection. That was why he was the perfect choice to head up the NASCAR-Hendrick Motorsports collaboration on the Garage 56 entry for the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans. Today, he brings that same focus to his role as the vice president of competition at Hendrick Motorsports, overseeing the organization’s four Cup Series teams.

"We are just so fortunate to have him as part of our company," team president and general manager Jeff Andrews said. "The perfection that he strives to achieve and how he pushes to make everyone better is second to none. It’s been great to watch him progress from guiding a 20-person race team to now having 170-some plus people who report directly to Chad and watch him push those groups as he’s done. He is just a tremendous asset to us. I am super proud of him and the leader he has become within the company."

Knaus is extremely grateful to those who have been a part of his path, but especially to team owner Rick Hendrick.

"Mr. Hendrick has given me so many opportunities to succeed," Knaus said when mentioning the NASCAR Hall of Fame team owner as his biggest mentor. "He continues to this day to put up guardrails and guidance for me, which is amazing. I don’t think you could ever ask for a better mentor or somebody that has the amount of patience that Mr. Hendrick has for guys like myself."

Catch Knaus’ induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Friday, Jan. 19, at 8 p.m. ET. The event will stream live on Peacock and will also be broadcast on MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90).