322 - Chad Knaus: Pushing the Limits
It's a Chad Knaus, few ever get to know. Dale Earnhardt Jr. sits down with the 7-time NASCAR Championship Crew Chief in a wide open interview on the Download.
Knaus' journey to becoming Jimmie Johnson's crew chief started in the grassroots midwest wrenching on his father's Late Model racecars. That short track grind taught many valuable lessons that he took with him on an unlikely journey to the heart of Stock Car Auto Racing, Charlotte, N.C. Knaus speaks of the failures in his first attempts to get into NASCAR, and how it landed him back home, and far away from his dream of becoming a big-time crew chief.
A bold phone call and an overnight stay in the Hendrick Motorsports parking lot finally opened the door for the journeyman crew member. Under the guidance of Ray Evernham, Knaus did it all. Then, he moved on. But why? The journey from team to team, including working for Dale Earnhardt Inc, wasn't always smooth for the Illinois native. But, it did include some memorable moments with Dale Sr., and a promise with Rick Hendrick that helped shape his future Hall of Fame career.
Chad, Dale Jr. and co-host Mike Davis talk about management by strengths and how Chad Knaus' direct personality is off the chart in the Hendrick system. He also shares some of the incredible attributes of his seven-time NASCAR Cup Series Championship driver, Jimmie Johnson. Dale Jr. and Chad discuss what it was like working together, as two completely different personalities, on the Hendrick Motorsports team. Knaus' aggressive style landed him in trouble and Dale asks him about the "creativity" he brought to an organization constantly pushing the envelope.
Dale reminisces about the time he dumped Knaus' driver Stacy Compton, and how a bloody-nose may have saved him from a confrontation with the crew chief.
Chad Knaus will start a new role for Team Hendrick in 2021, stepping off the pit box and into a managerial role. He reveals what has him most excited about the future with a flood of younger talent rising through the organization.
Aside from the interview, Dale Jr. brings a lot to the table... including a giant tub of shredded beef jerky. The DJD gang tries the unusual snack. Social Media guru Leah Vaughn didn't try the beef, but she did bring a ton of questions to Dale in the Ask Jr segment presented by Xfinity. Jr. breaks down Kevin Harvick missing the Championship 4 and shares his take on a controversial decision by Erik Jones' #20 team that helped Denny Hamlin advance to the Phoenix finale. Dale also shares why he became an iRacing executive and how nobody will replace Clint "Eastwood" Bowyer.
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