Hendrick Motorsports Shifts Crew Chiefs Around
The dream team of Chad Knaus and Jimmie Johnson will not be together in 2019 as Hendrick Motorsports will be splitting them up.
“Chad and Jimmie will go down as one of the greatest combinations in sports history,” Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick said. “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.”
Johnson and Knaus are in the midst of their 17th season working together, making them the longest-running crew chief-driver combination in the garage. The pair won a record-tying seven Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championships together.
“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.”
Johnson will instead will be led by Kevin Meendering, who has currently crew chiefing for Elliott Sadler in the NASCAR XFINITY Series at JR Motorsports. In three seasons together, Meendering has led Sadler to three wins, 38 top-five’s, and 73 top-10’s. Meendering is not new to Hendrick Motorsports, having spent 16 years there beginning with a high-school internship in the chassis department.
“Over the last couple of years, he’s been one of the most sought-after talents in the garage,” Hendrick said of Meendering. “Kevin is an impressive person who came up in our organization and will hit the ground running on day one. We already know how well he works with our people and that he’s a respected, forward-thinking crew chief. Having worked with a veteran driver like Elliott Sadler for three years is extremely valuable experience. He’s the right fit for Jimmie at the right time. With an established No. 48 team behind them, I believe they will perform at a winning level next season and chase that eighth championship.”
Knaus, meanwhile, will be partnered with William Byron for his sophomore campaign in the No. 24 Chevrolet. Knaus has a history with the No. 24, as he was part of the original Rainbow Warriors team from 1993 to 1998 under the direction of Ray Evernham.
“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.”
Byron’s current crew chief Darian Grubb will be promoted to technical director, an executive leadership role supporting Hendrick Motorsports’ engineering and vehicle development resources.
“Darian has established himself as a respected leader in our company, and we’ve seen him thrive in an executive role,” Hendrick said. “We’ve identified opportunities for improvement, and we know having him step up to technical director will help move us forward in those areas. He’s a champion who brings a wealth of knowledge that will continue to benefit us.”
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