DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Chad Knaus got his first big break at Hendrick Motorsports when he was picked to build a team from scratch around a rookie driver who had yet to prove he belonged at NASCAR’s top level.
The driver was Jimmie Johnson.
Once Johnson was paired with Knaus as crew chief, the duo took off and won a record-tying seven championships as the No. 48 team blossomed into one of the best in NASCAR history. Despite a 17-year friendship and all their success, the strain of underperforming last year was the final push toward their split.