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NASCAR Cup: Hendrick Motorsports splits up Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus

DOVER, DE – MAY 04: Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s for Pros Chevrolet, talks with his crew chief, Chad Knaus, during qualifying for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway on May 4, 2018 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images)

By AMANDA VINCENT

For the first time since going full-time in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson will have a new crew chief in 2019. Chad Knaus, who has been the crew chief on Johnson’s No. 48 teamsince 2002, will be William Byron on the No. 24 HMS team next season, replacing Darian Grubb. Grubb has been promoted to the position of Technical Director.

Kevin Meendering will be Johnson’s crew chief next year, moving from the No. 1 JR Motorsports team of Elliott Sadler in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Sadler is retiring from full-time NASCAR competition at the end of the 2018 season. JR Motorsports is co-owned by Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick.

“Over the last couple of years, he’s been one of the most sought-after talents in the garage. 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, Grubb and Meendering will complete 2018 in their current roles.

Knaus and Johnson are under contract with Hendrick Motorsports through the 2020 season. Their 17-season partnership is the longest in NASCAR. Their seven championships is a record-matching number for driver Johnson and one shy of tying the crew chief record of eight held by Dale Inman. Also, Johnson’s 83-career wins tally places him in a tie with Cale Yarborough for sixth on the all-time wins list.

“Chad and Jimmie will go down as one of the greatest combinations in sports history,” 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.”

The 2018 has been a struggle for Johnson and Knaus. They are winless, 30 races into the 36-race season. Their last win came last June at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. Johnson was eliminated from the 2018 playoffs in the first round.

“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.”

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Posted by on October 11, 2018. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,Monster Energy NASCAR Cup,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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