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Chad Knaus

bio-chadPersonal Information
Date of birth: 8/5/1971
Hometown: Rockford, IL
Current residence: Mooresville, NC

Like most racers, Chad Knaus grew up around cars. Born in Illinois, his introduction was immediate as he followed his father, John, around the local Midwest tracks, helping out when he could and anxiously watching when he couldn’t.

Knaus’ desire for racing continued throughout his adolescence and at age 14 his future success in NASCAR was foreshadowed when he served as crew chief for his father. That year the elder Knaus captured the Rockford Speedway championship with his son calling the shots from the pits. The father-son combination went on to many more victories, capturing the NASCAR Great Northern Series championship and finishing second in the Winston Racing Series.

After high school graduation and spurred on by his Midwest success, Knaus moved to North Carolina in search of more racing glory. Working for his uncle, Knaus held a steady job but couldn’t break into the elite ranks of racing. He was even offered a job as a corporate engineer but decided that racing was his true calling. A brief trip back to Illinois was just that and in 1991 he moved to Alabama, working for Stanley Smith’s stock car team as a mechanic and fabricator.

In 1993, Knaus’ determination paid off. The No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team, led by crew chief Ray Evernham and driver Jeff Gordon, called and Knaus answered. From 1993 to 1998, Knaus advanced from a general fabricator to manager of the entire chassis and body construction program for the team. Serving as a tire changer on the original “Rainbow Warrior” pit crew, Knaus was an integral part of the 1995 and 1997 championship teams.

After the 1997 season, Knaus reluctantly left Hendrick Motorspsorts seeking further advancement in the sport. The organization was stocked with a solid staff but Rick Hendrick vowed that he would one day bring Knaus back.

The Illinois native spent the next few years gaining valuable experience throughout the industry. He initially joined Dale Earnhardt, Inc. as a car chief for driver Steve Park. From there he teamed up with new team owner Ray Evernham and in 2000 helped Casey Atwood with his limited run in the Cup series. The following year, Knaus began working as crew chief with Melling Racing driver Stacy Compton, winning several speedway poles.

chad-knaus-240The desire to return to Hendrick Motorsports proved too much and in 2002 Knaus rejoined the organization as crew chief for Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet. Knaus had an immediate impact, leading the rookie team to unprecedented success in 2002, earning three wins, six top-fives, 21 top-10s and four poles. As a result, Knaus took home crew chief of the year honors.

The success for the hot, young duo continued through their second season. Putting to rest any talk of a sophomore slump the team vaulted up the points standing, earning a second place finish with three wins, two poles, 14 top fives and 20 top 10s

The success for the No. 48 team culminated in 2004, winning a season high eight races, one pole, 20 top fives and 23 top 10s. The team, who earned pit crew of the year honors, led the points through most of the season and pulled out a nail biting performance in the final race for a run at the championship, finishing a mere eight points out of the top spot.

Success continued in 2005 as the Lowe’s team went into the final race of the season with a shot at winning the championship for the second consecutive year. The team finished fifth in the final points standings, amassing four wins, one pole, 13 top-five and 22 top-ten finishes.

With impressive credentials throughout his career as a crew chief, it’s only a matter of time before Knaus leads Team 48 to the top spot in NASCAR’s elite series.

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