Chad Knaus has danced around the NASCAR Sprint Cup rulebook since entering the sport. It is the reason Jimmie Johnson has won more than 50 races in ten years and it is also the reason they dominated the sport for five of the last six years.
NASCAR officials finally caught up with Knaus and the Hendrick Motorsports team and once they nailed the five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion they only gave him a five-race suspension? Knaus also received a $100,000 fine and will be under probation until Memorial Day Weekend.
Knaus and the Hendrick Motorsports team believed they would not be caught and they pushed the envelope, hoping to receive a pass for creating an obviously illegal advantage. Knaus knows the key at Daytona is aerodynamics and any edge a car can receive will be huge in the late stages of the Daytona 500.
Jimmie Johnson is a decent driver but how many wins would Johnson have if he did not have Knaus pulling the strings and skirting the NASCAR Sprint Cup rulebook? The answer is less than half of the wins he currently owns. The majority of Johnson's wins come on the tracks where aerodynamics are the key to winning.
NASCAR's five-time champ is nothing more than an average driver without his crew chief and this will be proven in the next five weeks. Johnson and his No. 48 Lowe's Chevy will be under intense scrutiny and they begin the season in the negative after the being penalized 25 points.
There are several potential conclusions that will be drawn after Chad Knaus serves his five-race suspension. If Johnson is wallowing in 15th place with no top tens, Knaus will have some huge negotiating power for his next contract and Johnson will have to produce for rest of the season.
The good news for Johnson? There are not 15 teams good enough to compete at a top level in NASCAR. Yes, there is the occasional random success of a Regan Smith or Trevor Bayne but there are only eight to ten teams capable of winning a NASCAR Sprint Cup championship. Which translates to another possible championship for Knaus and Johnson once they make the NASCAR Chase.
*Todd Jacobs is an avid race fan who grew up watching sprint car racing legends race at Ascot Park in Gardena and Indy cars and NASCAR Cup cars at the Ontario Motor Speedway in Southern California. He has followed all forms of motorsports from open wheel sprint car racing to Formula One and all disciplines in between.
NASCAR Integrated Media: Chad Knaus Suspension
- Chad Knaus
- Jimmie Johnson
- Hendrick Motorsports