Knaus told Johnson to wreck car if he won at Talladega

UPDATE #3 See related rumor.

Rick Hendrick

10/31/11 Hendrick Motorsports team owner Rick Hendrick believes crew chief Chad Knaus was just being cautious when he made the now-infamous remark to driver Jimmie Johnson that he should intentionally damage his car if he won the race at Talladega Superspeedway last week. "It's one of those deals where I wish he hadn't said it because I think he's just nervous about the inspection process being so tight," Hendrick said. "But at the end of the day, I looked at where we were at the end of the race and I thought, 'If we had an advantage, it was a piss-poor showing. I look at that as one of those things where you're mic'd all the time and you're just making a comment. I'm not even sure he knew what he was doing." Scene Daily

Chad Knaus always one step ahead of NASCAR

10/27/11 NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp has issued a statement in response to the story: "We became aware of this piece of audio this morning and certainly want to get all the facts before making an opinion and reaching any conclusions. We'll visit with the parties and pull all the facts together best we can. While Talladega is done and the #48 was not the winning or random car, we certainly have an interest in getting the facts straight on behalf of the balance of the competitors." Though officials might be steamed at Knaus, it might be difficult for NASCAR to issue a penalty in this situation. While Knaus may have intended for Johnson to wreck the back of the car had the 48 team won the race, nothing ever actually happened. NASCAR will likely tell Knaus it's not happy with his intentions [and threaten to throw him out of NASCAR if Johnson ever does it in another race]. SB Nation

10/26/11 Chad Knaus told driver Jimmie Johnson to intentionally damage the back end of his race car if the #48 team won Sunday's race at Talladega Superspeedway, the crew chief acknowledged Wednesday. Knaus admitted giving the five-time NASCAR champion the pre-race instructions in order to "cover our bases" in case 500 miles of bump-drafting knocked the car beyond NASCAR's strict tolerances. Officials likely would have accepted the damage as an excuse if the # 48 car had not fit NASCAR's templates in post-race inspection. The conversation between Knaus and Johnson occurred when the crew chief leaned inside the #48 car before the race to give Johnson some final words of encouragement. Because Johnson's in-car camera was live on's RaceBuddy application, the chat was broadcast to anyone watching the feed at the time.

"If we win this race, you have to crack the back of the car," Knaus could be heard telling Johnson on the recording. "Got it?"

"Really?" Johnson replied, sounding surprised.

"Yes," Knaus said. "Got it? You don't have to have to hit it hard, you don't have to destroy it. But you've gotta do a donut and you've gotta hit the back end, or somebody's gotta hit you in the ass-end or something. OK?"

After Johnson responds with apparent silence (he can't be heard saying anything else), Knaus added, "You'll be alright. Can't take any chances."

When asked Wednesday whether the conversation indicated Knaus was trying something fishy on the back of the car, the crew chief replied, "I don't think that's a fair assessment. To be honest with you, here's the deal – racing at Talladega is tough, and I think everybody understands that," Knaus said in a phone interview. "You run 500 miles at 200 miles per hour, and you're bump-drafting and you're beating on one another, and it's real easy for these cars to get outside of tolerance. It's a tight tolerance that we're held in. It doesn't take much to be a few thousands (of an inch) off and have NASCAR raise an eyebrow. Just being proactive, I just told Jimmie, 'Look, man – we've just got to make sure there's a tire mark or some type of visible damage.' Just because cars do move when you race them like that." SB Nation

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