Chad Knaus stepping off the pit box

One of the most winning crew chiefs in the NASCAR Cup series will step off the pit box at the end of this season.

Hendrick Motorsports announced Tuesday that Chad Knaus will be moved into a senior leadership position in the company as vice president of competition where  he will oversee the technical development of Hendrick Motorsports’ entire stable of Chevrolet race cars, including its implementation of NASCAR’s 2022 “Next Gen” vehicle.

The 49-year-old Illinois native is a seven-time Cup Series champion crew chief, all with driver Jimmie Johnson, and a winner of 82 races. In the NASCAR Cup series, only Hall of Fame crew chiefs Dale Inman and Leonard Wood have more race victories, and just Inman has more championships. As crew chief of the No. 24 team with driver William Byron, Knaus this season competed in his record-extending 17th Cup playoffs. He is the all-time leader in NASCAR playoff race wins with 29 – nearly three times more than anyone else – and recently called his 700th career Cup-level race.

“When I started at Hendrick Motorsports (in 1993) working for Ray Evernham, my goal was to be a crew chief,” Knaus said. “Starting at a young age, I wanted to win every race we entered and battle for every championship. Mr. (Rick) Hendrick has given me the chance to do exactly that, and I could not be more thankful to him. After all these years, my competitive desire has not changed at all, but now I have a family that deserves my attention. This new executive role will allow me to compete in a different way with all four of our teams while spending more time with my wife and two young children. I appreciate the company supporting my decision, and I’m truly excited about the challenge ahead of me to help us grow and win. I’m also looking forward to working closely with Jeff, who I admire and have great respect for. I owe so much to Mr. Hendrick and everyone at Hendrick Motorsports, and I’m ready for the next chapter.”

Jimmie Johnson, who will retire from fulltime NASCAR Cup racing at the send of this season took to social media to wish his former crew chief best wishes.

“We’ve shared so many great experiences throughout our career in motorsports,” Johnson said. “I know what you mean to me and my family, and I’m so happy for you and your family on this next chapter in your career.”

Knaus will report to Jeff Andrews who has been promoted to executive vice president and general manager, effective immediately.

Andrews joined Hendrick Motorsports in 1992 and most recently served as vice president of competition since 2017. He previously held a variety of leadership positions in the team’s engine department, including director of engine operations. In his expanded role, the Fresno, California, native will oversee all competition-related departments, including powertrain, manufacturing and racing operations. He will continue to support the organization’s technical relationship with manufacturer Chevrolet and remain its primary liaison with NASCAR’s competition group. He reports to Hendrick Motorsports president Marshall Carlson.

“As we look to the years ahead, Jeff and Chad are going to play significant roles in our success,” said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. “They’re tremendous leaders who are respected within our organization and across the entire auto racing world. In addition, they each bring unique strengths and skillsets that will complement each other extremely well and benefit all of Hendrick Motorsports. We’re in the business of winning, and this combination is going to help us do just that.

“In life, it’s rare to witness true excellence first-hand, but that’s precisely what we’ve been treated to with Chad. Today’s announcement is bittersweet because, in my opinion, he is the finest crew chief our sport has ever seen. Although we’re going to miss him atop the pit box, I’m heartened that Chad has made this decision for himself and his growing family and that he is energized about the opportunity to move us forward in a new capacity. There is no one with higher standards or a stronger passion for winning. He will continue to elevate Hendrick Motorsports and instill his championship mentality throughout the company.”

Greg Engle