Is Chad Knaus To Leave Hendrick Motorsports?

This week, contracts for two of the main members of the #48 team were extended to 2010. Driver Jimmie Johnson was given a three-year extension to his contract, and sponsor Lowe's extended their sponsorship contract to match Johnson's extension. But what about the next major player of the team? Crew Chief Chad Knaus, whose contract ends after the 2007 season, has not received a matching extension offer. There has speculation that next year will be his last year.

Knaus is quoted as saying that he loves his team and he loves being a part of Hendrick Motorsports. But will he be staying past next year? Only Rick Hendrick holds the paper that could extend Knaus' contract. Some say that Hendrick is waiting to see if Knaus will walk the line with the NASCAR Rules and stay out of trouble. Jimmie Johnson has said that he has noticed a change in Knaus after his four-race suspension. Knaus seems to be having a softer approach to racing and has even taken time off. Chad Knaus credits Hendrick for showing him that racing isn't just life and death.

But the question still remains whether or not we are to see Knaus atop the pit box in 2008.

Chad Knaus ended last season amid rumors he was trying to get out of his contract. But he and Jimmie Johnson said they opened this season committed as ever to each other. But Knaus was then caught cheating during Daytona 500 preparations and opened the season serving a four-race suspension. Could this be the reason why Hendrick is holding back on his contract extension? Is Hendrick waiting to see what the end of this year brings for that team?

Granted, Jimmie Johnson is currently the leader in the point standings, so breaking up the Johnson/Knaus team could certainly be considered a questionable move. But on the other hand, the team seemed to feel no ill effects during Knaus' four-race suspension when they were forced to work with a substitute crew chief. Johnson had an excellent start to the 2006 season. So perhaps Hendrick saw that as a sign that Knaus isn't as necessary to the team's success as previously thought.

So what is the future of the #48 team? Only time will tell.

Published on May 22, 2006 in