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Knaus knows, but is he sharing?

By admin | September 1, 2008

By Richard Allen


Based on the results from the Auto Club Speedway it looks as if Chad Knaus knows something about how to make the Car of Tomorrow go fast. The Hendrick Motorsports crew chief had his #48 car for Jimmie Johnson running like a California dream Sunday night.

Johnson led 228 of the 250 laps in the Pepsi 500 on his way to an uncontested victory. The car was simply untouchable all day and night, which is unusual for a race that begins in the day and ends at night. Typically, there are comers and goers in these type races.

Even when Johnson found himself back in a bit of traffic after caution flag pit stops he simply put the hammer down on his Chevrolet and in turn put the hammer down on the competition. Traffic, sunlight, darkness, nor anything else seemed to bother the car or its driver.

The question that arises in my mind after watching one car so completely overwhelm the competition is, where were his teammates? Over the last couple of years while Johnson has battled fellow HMS driver Jeff Gordon for wins and titles, the organization has prided itself on the sharing of information. They have been quick to point out that no one driver has anything the other drivers in the organization do not have.

On Sunday, Johnson clearly had something the other Hendrick drivers did not. Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. ran between 11-15 just about the entire 500 miles of the race on their way to 11th and 15th place finishes respectively. Casey Mears was never really a factor as he placed 26th.

One other time this season has a car appeared so dominant. That was Johnson in the Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. That performance was somewhat overshadowed by the tire debacle that took place there. The #48 team used the same car for that race they used on Sunday night.

So, what has Chad Knaus figured out about the Car of Tomorrow? And, why are Johnson’s high profile teammates not able to keep up?

Of course, it could be that he is sharing whatever he has put into this one car with the other HMS crews. Perhaps Earnhardt and Gordon do not like the way the car handles quite as much as Johnson does.

Or, it could be that Knaus has saved the best for Chase time and he wants to become a crew chief who has won three consecutive championships.

Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.

Topics: Articles |

8 Responses to “Knaus knows, but is he sharing?”

  1. joe Says:
    September 2nd, 2008 at 7:37 am

    is it legal or did nascar let them by with something is it motor or handling or both u never know. why didnt nascar put cars on dyno there as they had dyno there seem a little funny as one car runs away they check toyota, ford, and dodge other week but only one chevy was checked they just wont chase to be hendrick chase dont care about other car mfg. this has always been nascar hang up with chevy all way from back in 60 they were given open to anything they wonted legal or cheating ask jr jhonson always been no change now

  2. Brian Vickers Needs Noogies Says:
    September 2nd, 2008 at 9:33 am

    I am still trying to figure out how this whole crew/chief driver thing works. But, it seems like Johnson/Knaus is just like Gordon/Evernham from years back. Johnson is extremely driven to win, and maybe his motorcycle background gives him a comfort level in the cars that the other drivers don’t have. Knaus is meticulous as hell. Together they are dangerous. Gordon seems to need to be comfortable, I dunno what his driving style is now.

  3. Lucky Says:
    September 2nd, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    Problem is simple to me, Gordon has an inexperienced crewchief. He was a floor sweeper then worked his way up to mechanic then thrusted into roll of crewchief for the biggest name in Nascar. Brian Whitesell was shipped over to the 25 ,(don,t know where he is now) Gordons chief mechanic last year went to the 43this year. Got a chief mechanic from the 40 car!!??

    Gordon and DuPont should be screeming to Hendrick to stop favoring the 48 and now the 88. The 24 made Hendrick in nascar.

    Get Gordon a crew chief, Hell hire Ray back, he has lost everything to divorce and merger, just a figure head at Gillette/Everham racing. Booty will be available next yr?

  4. McQuiston Says:
    September 2nd, 2008 at 5:45 pm

    Excellent article, Rich.

    Lucky knows his beans. Brian Whitsell has been a key cog in the Hendrick organization. Last I heard he was team manager for the 48 and 5. That was last year. Where is he now? When Gordon desperately needs someone who can dial in his car?

    Research that for us, please.

    It’s a cryin’ shame that a four-time champion can’t get the best technical help in all NASCAR. Like Lucky, I blame Hendrick.


  5. Julie Says:
    September 2nd, 2008 at 8:16 pm

    Rick Hendrick has the two most popular drivers in the sport in his organization, and neither one is named Johnson. Anyone who thinks that Rick Hendrick is going to throw the 48 team a bigger bone if it means hurting the two biggest stars in the sport doesn’t understand that this is first and foremost a business and Rick Hendrick is a businessman, and a very successful one at that.

    They say there is no one big fix for this car, but rather a whole bunch of little things that have made it more drive-able. I think the same can be said for the 24 team. Jeff has enough talent to drive this car, but Steve hasn’t found the feel Jeff is looking for yet, and Mr H says that notes don’t transfer from team to team now the way they used to. Add to that a pit crew with less than stellar performance and you have the mediocre season that has been the 24 this year. Sure, everyone is frustrated, but the performance of the 48 team should give them hope. The pieces are there, but they need to figure out the right way for their team to put them together because Steve isn’t going to be able to copy off of Chad’s notes anymore - this car doesn’t work that way.

    P.S. Is Addington holding out on the 11 and 20 teams, too?

  6. Lucky Says:
    September 3rd, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    Julie is correct in saying notes do not transfer from one car to another anymore, so other than extra dollars from sponsors, what advantage are their to a 4 car team????

    It use tobe that one car could go test and share with the others in the shop, no more. Does anyone really believe that Chad is going to give away his secrets on this car? If you do I have some ocean front property in SW Va I will sell you cheap.

  7. Huh? Says:
    September 3rd, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    Julie…..Rick Hendrick a smart business man? You mean crook, don’t you? So easily everyone forgets that he was on his way to federal prison, then suddenly acquired “leukemia”. They dropped the charges, and guess what? All better!!! And no, Addington isnt holding out on the 11 and 20. Zippy is one of the sharpest crew chiefs in the garage. Also Lucky, don’t forget that Gordon and Letart has won a championship together, as well as alot of races. It’s not Steve’s fault. Stewart hasn’t forgotten how to drive, and he hasn’t won this year either. For whatever reason, the 24 team’s not performing. All you arm chair crew chiefs should move to North Carolina. If you’re that smart, they’ll probably fire Letart and Zippy and hire you all on the spot…..well, on second thought, stick around. We like the amusement.

  8. Lucky Says:
    September 4th, 2008 at 6:06 pm

    julia, You don,t know the facts!! Gordon won his 4th championship with Lumis not Letart!!

    Hendrick was pardoned by Pres. Clinton 2 years after conviction and his sickness.

    Julie, whos responsibility is it to set the car up and make adjustnents on race day, the driver, owner or sponsor.
    You sound like an ole #3 fan now searching for a replacement. ha, ha