Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus part ways after the 2018 season
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Hendrick Motorsports announced Wednesday that the duo of Chad Knaus and Jimmie Johnson will split at the end of the season. Chad Knaus will become crew chief for William Byron and the No. 24 Chevrolet Team and Kevin Meendering will return to Hendrick and assume crew chief duties for Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team.
Knaus and Johnson have seven NASCAR Cup Series championship titles, 81 victories and over 600 races together. Knaus holds the record for five consecutive series championships.
Knaus and Johnson were teamed together in 2002, Jimmie Johnson’s rookie season. In that first season the team put together some impressive numbers with three wins, six top-five finishes, 21 top-ten finishes and finished fifth in the point standings. In 2006 Knaus and Johnson won their first NASCAR Cup Series Championship. 2016 was the year that Johnson and Knaus picked up their seventh championship and tied the record of Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt as the only three drivers with seven championships.
Since 2016 though the No. 48 team has not seen the success that they were accustomed to. In 2017 the team only made it to victory lane three times and only four finishes in the top five. 2018 has not been any kinder to Johnson and Knaus, with no wins and eliminated from the playoffs after the first round.
“It’s no secret that Chad and Jimmie have experienced their ups and downs over the years,” Rick 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 and his new Crew Chief Kevin Meendering will debut in the 2019 Daytona 500.