Chad Knaus, crew chief for the No. 48 Lowe's/Kobalt Tools Sprint Cup Chevrolet driven by Jimmie Johnson, met with the media at Richmond to discuss his contract renewal with Hendrick Motorsports, the dispute between his driver and teammate Jeff Gordon, and other topics.
You must be pleased that the contract renewal is done?
“I'm pretty pleased obviously. I've spent the majority of my life at Hendrick Motorsports since 1993 and I'd have a hard time thinking I'd ever go somewhere else. This No. 48 team and the No. 24 team are very important to me, and I'm glad to be a part of that and I want to stay here for a long time to come.”
You are considered to be one of the smartest crew chiefs in the sport. How many competitors came after you during this time?
“There really wasn't anything like that. I didn't speak to anybody else. I didn't talk to anybody else about any other options. I was planning on staying here at HMS and I'm pretty sure that Rick [Hendrick] wanted me to stay here and we just kind of focused on our deal and went that direction.”
WHAT IS THE ROLE FOR YOU LOOKING AHEAD?
“Right now, everything that I've got is in line with what Jimmie's got and we're both just on that to try to go out and win more races and win some championships and do the best we can for Lowe's and see what comes in the future. Five years from now a lot of things can change and that time frame; you just don't know what's going to happen.”
IS YOUR CONTRACT THROUGH 2014 OR 2015?
“It's the same as Jimmie's.”
Mark Martin's crew chief Alan Gustafson says he loves Hendrick Motorsports more than he loves being a crew chief and whatever they ask him to do, he will do. Is it the same for you, or is it different?
“In five more years of being a crew chief, I'm pretty sure I'll be about done by then. Crew chief years are about like dog years, so I'm thinking I'm about 97 years old – I don't think I can go much more after that.”
Are you specifically tied to the No. 48 team or is your contract with Hendrick?
“My contract is with Hendrick Motorsports but it's very well known that I'm going to be with the No. 48 car. The No. 48 is where my heart and soul is; being spawned off the No. 24 car and being raised in the environment of the No. 24, I think it's a natural fit. So I'm really pleased to be working with Jimmie. I enjoy working with Jimmie and the whole Lowe's team, and it's going to stay.”
Are you at all concerned about the words and barbs that Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon have traded recently?
“No, not really. Obviously we don't want to air any dirty laundry out in the media, because you guys tend to go and run with stuff way more than what you should. But people are emotional. This is an emotional industry and you get out there and you race for 500 miles, you tend to say things that maybe you don't want to. Everybody says stuff that they don't want to from time to time. We want those guys to be passionate about what it is that they do – they're racecar drivers. And if they didn't have the passion and the desire to go out there and be competitive, it wouldn't be what we wanted anyway.”
How is your relationship with the No. 24 crew chief, Steve Letarte?
“The relationship that Stevie and I have is an open-door policy. Stevie and I don't get along about everything. We're competitive as well. But the thing that we do is we talk about it – and we talk about it behind closed doors.”
If your drivers' dispute continues, would it be harder on the team guys?
“It's very difficult to keep a group of roughly 90 people we have working together in the 24/48 shop in harmony. We had a policy that when one gets rewarded, they all get rewarded. When one has to work, they all have to work. We all work together. It's easy for a driver to maybe lose sight of that, but I can promise you that what would destroy our team is any type of friction like that, and we're not going to allow that to happen.”