Knaus Brings Title Home

A proud father watched his son receive the 2006 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series championship crew chief award Thursday in New York, and in accepting, the son thanked his father for teaching him the trade as a youth, then allowing him to leave home to pursue his dream.

John Knaus is the father of Lowe’s Chevrolet crew chief Chad Knaus, who led his driver, Jimmie Johnson, and his Hendrick Motorsports team to the 2006 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series championship. As a young boy, Chad was influenced by his dad’s racing at an early age.

John Knaus is a seven-time NASCAR weekly series Late Model track champion at Rockford (Ill.) Speedway near Chicago. He enjoyed one of the highlights of his own great career in 1994, when he won the NASCAR Northern Region championship. That year, Knaus scored 13 feature event wins, 19 top-fives and 20 top-10 finishes in 22 starts.

To compile such a record at Rockford was considered impossible. Big fields of cars featuring inverted starts on a tough old quarter-mile banked asphalt oval all factored in to keeping one driver from accumulating enough wins to contend for a regional title. Knaus proved the theory wrong.

But Knaus sets his own accomplishments aside to enjoy those of his son.

“Obviously I’m very proud for Chad to come from a little town like Rockford,” said the elder Knaus. “When he headed down south I told him he’d probably come back. Back then, you didn’t head south from the north and be accepted. I thought you had to be from the south.

“I’m very proud of what he’s accomplished. He went down there and set his mind to it, and everybody knows about Chad’s determination to get his job done. That’s paid off for him in the long run.

“Chad was probably 13 years old and he pretty well understood a race car because he was around them all the time,” Knaus said. “He moved south after I had won my third track championship and I won four more after he left. He gave me good input on the race cars, but I think I taught him a lot of it, because I had to carry on after he left.”

A second son, Jason, worked with his dad, and now works in regional series racing.

John retired from driving only two years ago, but says he remains “a blue collar worker,” working at an automotive body shop in Rockford, where Chad also worked for a couple of years.

Chad’s mom Carol has watched both husband and son toil in racing, and succeed.

“It’s been a very interesting life,” Carol said. “I’ve been doing a lot of following, with John for a number of years, and now watching Chad and seeing everything he does. It’s been a lot of fun,” she said with a bright smile.

Knaus was presented with his championship crew chief trophy by NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Director John Darby, a former Rockford Speedway official.

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