Just days after the blockbuster announcement that Hendrick Motorsports was breaking up the vaunted pairing of driver Jimmie Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus, new details have emerged. As of 2019, Knaus will be reunited with his first driver, journeyman Stacy Compton.
“I feel like my whole career with Jimmie has led me to this moment”, Knaus said earlier today in a press conference. “Back in 2000 I was nowhere near ready to work with such a singular talent as Stacy. Now, with seven championships under my belt, I feel I finally have the talent to crew chief for ‘The Man from Grit’.”
Knaus crew chiefed for Compton in 2000 with Melling Racing. While the results weren’t there, Knaus has readily shouldered the blame for that.
“It was all on me”, Knaus said. “I was just a young kid out there, I didn’t know how to harness such pure driving ability. Those two pole positions that year weren’t just plate racing flukes—they were glimmers of brilliance.
“I mean, you’d think that those dozen or so races working with Darrell Waltrip would’ve prepared me for working with a two-time Truck Series race winner, but I guess it wasn’t enough.”
Knaus also cleared up confusion over his supposed reassignment to crew chief for current Rookie of the Year leader William Byron.
“Look—William is the future, there’s no denying that”, Knaus explained. “But a young kid like that can learn SO much from watching a talented veteran like Stacy tear it up around the track. Once Hurt, Virginia’s Finest is ready to hang up his helmet, I’ll be ready to impart all my knowledge to William Byron, and we’ll all be the better for it.”
Reaction around the garage was mixed, with most drivers assuming that Melling Racing shut down after they lost the Cartoon Network sponsorship.