By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
Chad Knaus and Jimmie Johnson are breaking up at the end of the season. Together, they were driver and crew chief for 17-years.
Knaus and Johnson’s partnership won seven championships.
“Chad and Jimmie will go down as one of the greatest combinations in sports history,” team owner Rick Hendrick said in a release provided by the organization. “They defied the odds by performing at a championship level for longer than anyone could’ve possibly imagined. What they’ve accomplished together has been absolutely remarkable and will be celebrated for generations. This has been an incredible, storybook run.”
Knaus will transition to being William Byron’s crew chief beginning in 2019. Hendrick Motorsports announced the crew chief changes for two of their four teams.
Instead of being with Knaus, Johnson will now be paired with Kevin Meendering. He’s presently a crew chief for JR Motorsports in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
Knaus goes back to the No. 24 car where he helped as a crew person on driver Jeff Gordon’s “Rainbow Warriors” team. He was a tire changer for two of Gordon’s four championships.
“You can’t quantify how much Chad’s leadership and championship experience will benefit William, who is a special talent,” Hendrick said. “The two of them are a great match, and I’m excited to see what they can do together. Chad has the Rainbow Warriors pedigree and truly appreciates the history of the No. 24. I’ve asked him to build another winner and given him the green light to put his stamp on the team and do it his way.”
Darian Grubb will move to Byron’s technical director after returning as a crew chief this season.
Knaus and Johnson were together since 2002, which was Johnson’s rookie season. Besides the seven championships, they also had 81 wins together.
Johnson struggled this season. He has not won a race since June 2017, which is 53 races.
“It’s no secret that Chad and Jimmie have experienced their ups and downs over the years,” Hendrick said. “They’re fierce competitors, great friends and have immense respect for one another. They also fight like brothers. All three of us agree it’s finally time for new challenges and that a change will benefit them and the organization.”