Knaus Wins Crew Chief of the Race Award Undeterred by Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s new pavement, Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team collected their third UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 title in a row. Led by crew chief Chad Knaus, Johnson pulled away from the competition in the final eleven laps to become the most-accomplished driver in Las Vegas Motor Speedway history. The victory, however, was not an easy one, and it required great preparation and adjustments from Knaus and the No. 48 team to give Hendrick Motorsports its 150th career victory. Following a pass-through penalty from a pit stop infraction, Knaus made all of the right adjustments to the Lowe’s Chevrolet, cementing a place for both his team and driver in the record books and earning himself the WYPALL* Wipers Crew Chief of the Race Award.
After rocketing into first place from a 23rd place start in only 21 laps, it was evident that the No. 48 Chevrolet had an advantage over the other race cars. “The guys did an awesome job setting up the car today,” said Knaus following the race. “The team had it together from the get-go. When everyone else had problems early on, we were able to move up really fast.”
During a four-tire pit stop on lap 107, the left, rear tire from the No. 48 car rolled out of the team’s pit box, resulting in a pass-through penalty and a loss of first place. Rather than become discouraged, Knaus rallied the team behind their superior race car. By lap 143, Johnson was remarkably back in the top-5 and in position to overtake the leaders.
In the final stages of the race with the lead in his sights, Johnson surged past Jeff Burton and never looked back. Even after a late Kasey Kahne crash and subsequent caution, Johnson swiftly created another sizeable gap. He finished the race two seconds ahead of fellow Hendrick Motorsports driver Jeff Gordon.
A panel of voters; including a member of the local media, Tony Eury Jr. and a WYPALL* Wipers representative; agreed that Chad Knaus made the best decisions and adjustments. “Chad and his team did a great job today,” said Eury Jr. “They overcame a penalty and got a big win on a tough track.”
As the WYPALL* Wipers Crew Chief of the Race, Knaus received $1,000. At the end of the season, the crew chief with the most weekly wins will receive $20,000 and be crowned WYPALL* Wipers Crew Chief of the Year.