NASCAR CUP SERIES
COKE ZERO SUGAR 400
DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
August 27, 2020
CHAD KNAUS, CREW CHIEF, NO. 24 LIBERTY UNIVERSITY CAMARO ZL1 1LE, met with media via teleconference and discussed the upcoming race at Daytona, his approach to his job, the leadership role he plays with the No. 24 team, and more. Full Transcript:
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO MAYBE BE RESPONSIBLE FOR KEEPING JIMMIE JOHNSON OUT OF THE PLAYOFFS IN HIS FINAL SEASON?
“Weird question. Why do you guys always try to pit us against one another?
YOU GUYS ARE GOING AGAINST EACH OTHER FOR THE FINAL PLAYOFFS SPOT
“it’s cool. It’s all part of it. It’s unfortunate that we’re in these positions. Obviously, sans a problem with Charlotte for the No. 48 and then Jimmie needing to sit out for COVID, he would be locked-in for sure. And, unfortunate for us. We’ve had some bad things happen on the race track with tires, etc., you could just name a thousand things out there. But, it’s unfortunate we’re in this position, the both of us. And, it’s racing.”
“Oddly enough, as I got home from Dover, I was doing the post-race notes. And I was just pondering a little bit. It was like midnight, or something like that, as I was doing my notes. And I was like man, it’s so weird that I’m going to be battling the No. 48 car going into Daytona. And then the next morning, at like 8:00 a.m., he sent me a text. He’s like man, isn’t it weird that we’re competing with one another for this? So, we a text right there and then we had a phone conversation a little bit later in the week. And hey, it is what it is. We’re both professionals here. We understand what’s going on. And it’s racing. And it’s competition. And, we’ll go down there and hopefully, we both get in, you know? I think we’ve got that possibility. We both run really well at super speedways. Hendrick Engines and the guys at the shop build some amazing race cars. So, hopefully we can get out there and get some stage points and race well and get both the No. 24 and the No. 48 into the Playoffs.”
HOW SIGNIFICANT IS IT TO YOU THAT YOU’VE MADE THE POST-SEASON EVERY YEAR IN IT’S FORM IN NASCAR? IS THAT SOMETHING THAT’S SIGNIFICANT OR IS IT QUITE FRANKLY, THE WAY YOU VIEW IT IS SOMETHING THAT IS EXPECTED AND NOT REALLY WORTHY OF MUCH DISCUSSION BECAUSE THAT’S PART OF YOUR JOB?
“You know, quite honestly, up until this year, I always thought it was pretty easy to make the Playoffs, honestly. So, I hadn’t put a whole lot into it. Obviously, the desire is extremely high to get into the Playoffs. That’s what I want to do for sure, one hundred percent. But I hadn’t really thought about that a whole lot. It’s just what you’re supposed to do. It’s just part of the job, right? The expectation is to be in the Playoffs. I never looked at it as anything other than just what you’re supposed to do. Does that make sense?”
I SEE YOU IN THE COACH ROLE SINCE YOU SAID IT WAS SOMETHING YOU HADN’T THOUGHT OF AS MUCH IN YEARS PAST. SINCE YOU’VE HAD A LITTLE BIT MORE OF THE GRIND HERE RECENTLY IN THE LAST FEW YEARS, HOW HAS THAT CHANGE HOW YOU COACH OR DIRECT YOUR TEAM BECAUSE IT’S A DIFFERENT SITUATION THAN WHAT YOU’RE USED TO?
“It is a little bit different, for sure. We actually just had a team meeting not too long ago. And I was chatting with the guys and here’s the way I take this, right? In all my years of being in this sport and being in different levels of success, somebody is always trying to give me advice on how to handle things and how to approach the weekend, how to approach a race, how to approach a championship. And I told them, I said, you guys need to tell whoever it is that’s trying to tell you how to handle your emotions in this type of situation to just go away and let you deal with it your way because you’re a professional and you guys are doing things the way that you can to the best of your ability. The only thing that’s going to happen if people start giving you advice is that you’re going to cloud you and misdirect you. So, you’ve got to believe in your heart. And, that’s just the truth.
“And, from my standpoint, I fall back on what my experiences are. I fall back on my teammates. We’re going to try to lift each other to the highest level we possibly can this weekend to go out there and compete and hopefully come out of there with not only a Playoff berth, but a race win because that’s what we’re ultimately trying to do, right?
“So, we’re working hard on that, from that respect. I think we’re capable of getting down there and racing really competitively. The thing I think I’m most excited about, quite honestly, is the race tracks that are coming up afterwards. With the lack of practice this year, it’s no mystery that the Chevrolet Camaro has been a little bit difficult for us to try to get on top of; but if you go back and you look, I think our performances at second races, or a second time at a given race track have been pretty good. So, I’m really looking forward to getting back to some of these race tracks for a second time (like) Darlington and Martinsville. You look at Kansas and Vegas. Some of these tracks, I really thing we’re going to perform exceptionally well and get Hendrick Motorsports back where it needs to be.”
YOU’VE OBVIOUSLY DONE THIS WITH A LOT OF SUCCESS IN YOUR CAREER. BUT THE UNPREDICTABILITY OF DAYTONA BEING THE CUTOFF RACE WITH EVERYTHING THAT’S ON THE LINE, DOES YOUR CHAIR EVER GET COMFORTABLE WHEN YOU’RE DOWN THERE? IT’S SUCH A WILDCARD.
“Yeah, I won’t be comfortable until I get my butt on the airplane and fly out of that place, I can tell you that. It’s a treacherous race track. Obviously, it’s in the time slot it is for a reason, right? We like that unpredictability and excitement when it comes to cutoff races for the Playoffs or to make the Playoffs. It’s all there by design, right? I love Daytona. It’s a great race track. It’s been really good to me over the years. We’ve had a lot of success from the teams that I’ve been a part of; whether it be the old No. 24 to the No. 92 car to the No. 48, to the new No. 24 team. So, uncomfortable is not really what’s going to be going on or those 400 miles down there in Daytona.”
RELYING ON EXPERIENCE AND FALLING BACK AND WHAT YOU’VE DONE AND LEARNED MAKES A LOT OF SENSE. BUT YOU’RE WITH A YOUNG DRIVER NOW. WHEN YOU FALL BACK ON THE EXPERIENCE AND WHAT YOU’VE DONE, ISN’T IT A TOTALLY DIFFERENT PICTURE, OR NOT?
“When you’re a young driver, you’re saying? This is kind of what I was trying to get at. He (William Byron) and a lot of the members of this team are young, for sure. Not just young in experience, but young in age. The thing is, they’re all in this position for a reason. And, that’s kind of what I was really trying to reinforce is that you just do what it is that you’re good at and rely on what has gotten you here. William has had a lot of success at super speedways over the years in Trucks and the Xfinity Series. And we won the 150 earlier this year. We’ve run really well at a lot of the races. Unfortunately, like a lot of the folks out there, our finish rate is pretty low, which is always frightening. But our performance has always been high. So, as long as he does what it is that he needs to do, which I think he will, he’s going to do just fantastic. William is a very calculated guy.”
“That’s why I do it. I enjoy the competitiveness of it. I enjoy the puzzle. Everything is a riddle. And, you’ve got to try to solve the riddle and that’s to be first at the end of 400 miles at this race and to have the championship at the end of the season. And, it’s a daunting task as you look at the races and the things you try to navigate throughout the course of the year. Yeah, the stress is high. But, it’s why we do it, right? I love my job. I’ve got one of the coolest jobs in the world. And I’m very, very fortunate to be able to do what it is that I do.”
YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT THE STRESS AND PEOPLE GIVING ADVICE ON HOW TO HANDLE THE EMOTIONS. WHAT HAS YOUR EMOTION BEEN THIS WEEK? IS THERE EXCITEMENT? IS THERE STILL FRUSTRATION ABOUT WHETHER JIMMIE MAKES IT OR NOT FOR YOU?
“I learned quite a while ago to be able to put things to bed pretty quickly from a previous weekend and I definitely don’t reflect back too much on what happened throughout the course of the year to put us in this situation because that’s a waste of energy. I’ve got a lot more important things to do. So, I don’t really worry about that a whole lot, honestly. The thing about Jimmie, man, who knows what’s going to happen? Like I said is my intention is for Hendrick Motorsports to put both of these cars in the Playoffs. We’ve got a shot at it, right? And that’s what we need to try to do. I’m hoping Jimmie makes it. I hope to hell the man goes out there and wins the championship, honestly. And, that would just be spectacular to see him be able to do that and knowing that I was a part of that would be really awesome, right? But we’ll just have to see how the cards fall. It’s a tough spot. It’s a tough race. It is what it is.”
HAVE YOUR PRIORITIES CHANGED SINCE BECOMING A FATHER?
“Well, of course. I mean you’ve got a couple more little responsibilities you’ve got to stick in there. Anybody who says that they don’t would be lying. It’s changed my life a little bit, but I don’t think it’s taken away from what we do at Hendrick Motorsports much at all. I’ve got a great wife that understands my job and understands what it is that I do. She’s able to give me the freedom that I need to have to work and work long hours and be gone on weekends and things of that nature. So yeah, it’s definitely changed. But it’s not like I’m doing things a whole lot different, to be honest.”
SO, DO YOU ENJOY IT AS MUCH? YOU ARE GETTING QUESTIONS ABOUT EMOTIONS. DO YOU ENJOY GETTING UP AND COMING TO THE SHOP AS MUCH NOW AS YOU EVER HAVE?
“Absolutely. One hundred percent. I don’t know how to explain it. So, my alarm goes off in the morning. And, I hit ‘snooze’ once. And then my feet hit the floor. And then I’m in a mad rush to get teeth brushed, shower, shave, dressed, in the car, drive down Highway 85, usually about 85 mph, so I get here as fast as I can and get in here and get to work. And I’ve been doing that now for I don’t know how many years. But, a long time. And I don’t foresee that changing any time soon. I love coming here. I love coming into this complex. It’s the coolest place in the world. For folks that haven’t been here, or who haven’t been here for a while, it’s just amazing what we are able to be a part of here at this facility. And my number one goal is to get the No. 24 car into Victory Lane and running the way that it’s supposed to be, and all of the cars here at Hendrick Motorsports.”
Founded in 1911 in Detroit, Chevrolet is one of the world’s largest car brands, doing business in more than 100 countries and selling more than 4.0 million cars and trucks a year. Chevrolet provides customers with fuel-efficient vehicles that feature engaging performance, design that makes the heart beat, passive and active safety features and easy-to-use technology, all at a value. More information on Chevrolet models can be found at www.chevrolet.com.