Raybestos Rookie - Chad Knaus interview

Chad Knaus, Crew Chief for leading Raybestos® Rookie Contender Jimmie Johnson. Entering The Tropicana 400 at Chicagoland Speedway, Johnson leads the Raybestos® Rookie of the Year Entering Sunday's race at Chicagoland Speedway, Knaus has...

Chad Knaus, Crew Chief for leading Raybestos® Rookie Contender Jimmie Johnson. Entering The Tropicana 400 at Chicagoland Speedway, Johnson leads the Raybestos® Rookie of the Year

Entering Sunday's race at Chicagoland Speedway, Knaus has called the shots in 52 winston cup races with two wins, four top-fives, 12 top-10S, five poles, and has racked up over $3.3 million in earnings.

Knaus' numbers with Johnson this season are most impressive: three poles, two wins, four top-fives, 11 top-10S and third in Winston Cup points after 17 races. His first race as Crew Chief was with 2000 Raybestos® Rookie Contender Stacy Compton and car owner Mark Melling. In 35 races together, Knaus and Compton won two poles and scored one top-10 finish (2001 Daytona 500).

CHAD KNAUS, CREW CHIEF NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET:

DID YOU EXPECT TO BE THIS COMPETITIVE AT THIS POINT OF THE SEASON?

"Not even close. We had hoped to be running in the top-15 in points and we're in the top-15, top-10 pretty consistent at this point and for us to be sitting I think we're fifth right now in points its way higher than the goals that we had set."

WHY ARE YOU GUYS DOING SO WELL ON THE TRACK? IS IT A MAGICAL COMBINATION?

"I don't think there is a whole lot of magic in anything. What we've got is a driver that's trying to work really hard, we've got a crew chief that's trying to work really hard, we've got about 60 guys that are back there in the 24 (Jeff Gordon) and 48 shop that are working really hard and then we've got a total of about 300 guys at Hendrick Motorsports that are working really hard. Everybody is putting in a lot of extra effort and doing what they can and that's why we are running well."

HOW MUCH OF A DIFFERENCE WAS IT GOING FROM THE MELLING TEAM TO HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS?

"It's tremendous. Mark Melling is a great guy and the Melling family is a great group of people. They were totally supportive of the racing organization. We tried very hard and had some success. To be able to go over to Hendrick Motorsports with Jeff and all the Lowe's people and Rick and all the backing and support that we've gotten and all the information it's not even close to being able to compare the two."

THROUGH THE FIRST PART OF THE SEASON, WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST SURPRISE TO YOU?

"Two wins and three poles (laughs). It's a pretty damn big surprise. The biggest part of it is the fact that the guys that we've got that travel on the road get along really, really well. They work together really well and they are all on the same page. They are level headed, they're pretty easy going guys, they're aggressive when they need to get in there and get something done and they're able to get back to the shop and relate to the guys back at the shop what is going on at the racetrack so the guys at the shop can make our racecars better when we bring them to the track."

DURING THE SECOND HALF OF THE SEASON, WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS THAT YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE TO LOOK OUT FOR?

"The biggest thing that we've got to do as the team goes from building the team and that standpoint is keeping everybody working well together and pulling in the same direction. That's the biggest thing that any team is faced with, especially going into a 20 week stretch. As far as a performance standpoint, I think if we could keep NASCAR from changing the rules we'd be a lot better off. That's the hardest thing is continuously changing tires, rules, aero packages and this and that. For a young team like what we've got it's harder for us to overcome that what it would be for somebody that's got a lot more experience, let's say a Jeff Gordon or Sterling Marling or somebody like that."

DO YOU THINK IT'S POSSIBLE IN MODERN DAY WINSTON CUP RACING FOR SOMEONE WHO IS NOT AN ENGINEER TO WORK HIS WAY UP TO CREW CHIEF?

"I'm not an engineer. I've done some small mechanical engineering but that's it. You have to have the right people on a race team to make it work. If you talk to a lot of engineers you know they may not have the people skills that they need to make a team jell. And then you will have some crew chiefs that are not smart enough to be able to engineer the race car. It's a support thing. You've got to be able to communicate with the guys but you've also got to be able to have the engineering support. We've got some great engineers that work with us. Those guys feed me information and I take the information and I sift through it and use what I want to use and what I don't we put to the side and save for another time. You don't have to be an engineer when you have support like that. The biggest problem with some of the guys that come in here that are straight out of school, straight out of engineering, they don't know how to talk to people. They don't know how to communicate, they don't know how to call a race, they don't have the racing savvy that some of these other guys might, like say a Billy Wilburn or myself, or even Ray Evernham. We never took an engineering course. We're racers and to run in Winston Cup you have to have a bit of racer in you."

YOU HAVE HAD A LOT OF SUCCESS IN THE FIRST HALF OF THE SEASON. DOES THAT PUT EVEN MORE PRESSURE ON THE TEAM?

"No, if anything it's less. We've already done way more than what's expected of us. If we go out right now and finish in the top-15 every week we've had a great season. If we don't win another race for the rest of the year, we'll probably be a little bit disappointed but we don't have to. We weren't supposed to win anyway so it's just an added bonus."

-raybestos-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Sterling Marlin , Stacy Compton , Jimmie Johnson , Ray Evernham , Chad Knaus
Teams Hendrick Motorsports