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Aug 01, 2014 - 05:54 PM
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2014 Pocono II Q&A: NASCAR Sprint Cup - Chad Knaus
Posted by: ASkyler on Aug 01, 2014 - 05:44 PM
NASCAR News
2014 Pocono II Q&A: NASCAR Sprint Cup - Chad Knaus


CHAD KNAUS, CREW CHIEF, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media at Pocono Raceway and discussed the addition of Greg Ives as crew chief for the No. 88 Chevrolet SS in 2015 and many other topics.

TELL US WHY GREG IVES WAS THE RIGHT CHOICE OF THE NO. 88: "I think from a lot of different levels. I think if you look at the structure that we’ve got in place the way we are working closely with JR Motorsports. We wanted to get that team set-up to where it could be used as a farm team to help lead Hendrick Motorsports. Greg is obviously a very good fit with me and the rest of the team at the 48/88 shop. He worked his way up from a mechanic to a chassis set-up guy to the No. 48 lead engineer and won championships with us. I think that from that stand point it’s really a no brainer."

WHAT QUALITIES DOES HE HAVE THAT YOU THINK WILL MESH WELL WITH DALE? "Dale has matured enough now that he can handle. That is a tough thing. I think the one thing Greg is, Greg is a good guy. He’s a family man. He understands what family is about. But the thing that he really does bring is he brings fast race cars. When you have fast race cars everything else seems to just take care of itself."

WHAT IS THE MOOD LIKE BACK AT THE SHOP? "They are all excited. Greg is a friend of everybody. We love Greg. We have seen him come as a young man, get married, have kids, grow, turn into a crew chief, win races in the Nationwide Series, lead the points over there. Everybody is really excited to have him back. I think he’s going to be a positive influence to everybody at Hendrick Motorsports. Look we are sad that Steve (Letarte) is leaving let’s be straight right. We all like Steve, but much like Steve and Alan (Gustafson) and myself Greg has gone up through the system. Everybody knows him, everybody respects him. He understands the Hendrick way so it’s good. I think it’s going to be a great thing."

 

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HOW EASY OF A DECISION WAS THIS FOR YOUR ORGANIZATION TO BRING GREG OVER FROM JR MOTORSPORTS? "There are no easy decisions for sure. There are always things that you have to consider, personalities, kind of like what Marty (Smith, ESPN) was saying what does the person bring as far as from a technological stand point? So there are no easy decisions and there is no necessarily perfect answer. We are going to have to grow and learn. He (Greg Ives) was definitely at the top of the list. His comfort level with everybody at Hendrick Motorsports made him a clear choice."

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOU KNOWING THAT YOU HAVE SUCH HIGH STANDARDS FOR THAT SHOP? "We pride ourselves in what it is that we do in the 48/88 shop. I think he will be a natural fit from that stand point. Michael Landis our team manager and I we spoke about it yesterday. Greg understands how we work. We work with a three person task force between the two crew chiefs and Michael Landis to make the decision and the directions that we go in our shop. What we do with our race cars and how we approach life. I think Greg understands that and he will willingly come in and be a part of that. Our goal is to keep that No. 88 car running up front. Hopefully win the championship or finish second in the championship between us and the No. 88. We have got to focus on that. We have to pay attention to what we are trying to do this year. Try to get the teams to stay together intact and move on to 2015 without any problems."

ANY REACTION TO THE NO. 11 PENALTY? "I don’t know what happened there. Man, I don’t get into that. I don’t follow a lot of that stuff. I was surprised. That is a pretty heavy hit. So I don’t know what happened. Nobody knows really what happens unless you are in the middle of it. It was a heavy hit."

WHAT IS THIS LIKE FOR YOU HAVING GREG BECAUSE YOU HAVE BEEN ABLE TO MOLD HIM? THIS IS SOMEBODY THAT HAS COME IN THAT YOU HAVE HAD YOUR HANDS ON. WHAT IS THAT AND THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THAT SINCE THIS IS YOUR GUY? "Yeah, there is a sense of responsibility from my stand point. I can assure you I am going to do everything in my power to make sure that thing works and it does a good job. Greg is a good guy. He was a huge impactful part of the No. 48 team for years. We wanted to see him grow. We knew what his desires were so to have him come back here there is going to be a big portion of me trying to make sure that he gets everything that he needs."

WHERE DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU GUYS ARE AT THIS POINT SIX WEEKS OUT FROM THE CHASE? "We are not running as well as we need to. I think everybody knows that. We have had some struggles this year. We’ve won a few races, which is great. But on a consistent level we are not as fast as what we want to be. Quite honestly I don’t think anybody is. You can see it time and time again you will see a car go out there and lead the most laps and potentially win the race, then show up the next week and they can’t run worth a damn. It’s been pretty consistent throughout the garage we just hope that we can get running the way we need to when we get to those final 10."

WHAT MATTERS LEADING INTO THE CHASE?

"Well nothing matters leading into the Chase, it’s what happens once you get into the Chase obviously. Look momentum is a great thing. We all understand that. Momentum on your side is always good; it’s always good to have the sun on your face and the wind in your sails. Let’s be honest because everyone is always happier. But the fact of the matter is you can overcome anything if you have the right tools. That is what we are fighting for right now to make sure that when we show up in Chicago, Loudon and all those races that we have the proper race cars.

"We have the proper mindset and we’ve got the ability to do what it is that we need to do to execute to win races and battle for the championship. It’s going to be a challenge for sure because we don’t know exactly what we want, but we are honing in on it. We have had some pretty solid runs. We have done okay this year we haven’t been terrible, but we’ve also had some runs that are subpar. Some of the races that we could have or should have won we didn’t because of reasons, circumstances outside our control. Those show up from time to time. We could easily be sitting here with six wins this year as opposed to three. We would be having a completely different set of conversations. We are okay."

HOW WOULD YOU COMPARE HENDRICK ON A PERFORMANCE LEVEL TO PENSKE OR GIBBS? "I think it’s very similar. One week Penske goes out there and they run really well. The next week Hendrick goes out there and run really well. Gibbs I think they are finding their stride. I think they have performed as a company a little bit better last week than they have in recent weeks. But the No. 2 and the No. 22 they go out there about once a month and they run really strong. Then the other ones they kind of hang out there. It’s been kind of the same for us."

IT’S HARD TO WIN IT ALL MUCH LESS TO WIN FOR 20 YEARS WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF JEFF GORDON’S LONGEVITY AND WHAT HE DID LAST WEEKEND? "That’s fantastic. Look I’m a huge Jeff Gordon fan as everybody understands. I was there when we won the inaugural Brickyard event in 1994. It was interesting I was at the Jeff Gordon Bowling Tournament and they showed up there on the sign that he had won in 1994, 2004 and I was like ‘man if he could win this year that would be really cool, once a decade.’ And hell he did it. That was pretty awesome. I couldn’t be happier for them. I really am. Jeff is a great guy he is a huge part of our sport, a great ambassador. Alan Gustafson and that whole team they work really hard so I was really proud of them last week."

HE (JEFF GORDON) TOLD ME THE LAST TIME HE FELT THIS CAPABLE PERSONALLY WAS 2007 WHEN YOU GUYS BARELY NIPPED THEM FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP. HOW WOULD YOU ASSESS THAT? DO YOU FEEL LIKE THEY LOOK BETTER THAN THEY HAVE IN RECENT YEARS? "Gosh I don’t remember 2007 I don’t even know what happened then. That was a lot of races and a lot of suspensions ago (laughs). I don’t even know. I think they are running great, they really are. I think the team is clicking. I think they are doing a good job. Jeff is definitely in a good frame of mind. We all understand when a driver and a team when they are in a good frame of mind they can accomplish things that maybe they typically wouldn’t. It’s interesting we will see what happens."

IT SEEMS LIKE HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS FOR THE MOST PART DEVELOPS THEIR CREW CHIEFS FROM WITHIN. JUST TALK ABOUT HOW IMPORTANT THAT IS AS A COMPANY TO DEVELOP YOUR CREW CHIEFS AND BRING GUYS UP THROUGH THE RANKS? "I think it’s very important to do that. The reason is every race team, every organization, has a culture. There is a way of living life within those campuses. I think if you do that and you get the right people and you train them they are going to be productive and they are going to be successful in your company and it’s going to help the longevity of your company. I think it bodes well for new people coming in. When you have a new mechanic, a new fabricator, a new engineer that walks in the door and they have goals and aspirations of being a car chief, a lead engineer or a crew chief he knows that he can attain those if he applies himself. That is what we try to foster at Hendrick Motorsports. I think it has worked out over the years."

THERE IS A CHANCE THE NO. 11 WON’T HAVE HIS CREW CHIEF BACK UNTIL THE CHASE STARTS AT CHICAGOLAND. THERE IS KIND OF TWO SCHOOLS OF THOUGHT WITH THIS NEW CHASE FORMAT THAT NOT HAVING YOUR CREW CHIEF MIGHT NOT BE AS IMPACTFUL AS LONG AS THEY ARE BACK FOR THE CHASE. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS? "It is a challenge when you go through those situations. It’s never fun being suspended. But with the way things are today with your limited amount of practice time, the limited amount of things you can change on the race car, a crew chief being at the race track probably isn’t nearly as bad as it was the last time I was suspended quite honestly. I think Darian (Grubb) is going to have some opportunities to sit back and try to get focused on what he needs to do going into the Chase. Now preparation is the key. If they can get prepared before they leave North Carolina, before they get to the race track I don’t think it’s going to bother them the least little bit. That is a solid team. I saw their old car chief is here today; obviously he is more than capable of doing the job. I don’t know who is going to be the crew chief. (Media interjects Mike Wheeler) They will be fine. They will do a good job. Coming into the Chase maybe it will be good for them."

A LOT OF CREW CHIEFS SAY WELL WE DON’T REALLY KNOW WHAT THEY WERE DOING, BUT DOESN’T THE GARAGE SORT OF GET IT? DOESN’T THE GARAGE KIND OF KNOW WHAT THEY WERE DOING THERE? "Sounds like you know more than I do. Here is the deal. There is the No. 11 side of the story, NASCAR’s side of the story and the truth is in the middle somewhere right? Let’s be honest. I don’t know what they were doing. I don’t really care. It doesn’t affect me and I don’t care."

IF YOU COMPARE THIS SPORT WITH OTHER MAJOR PROFESSIONAL SPORTS YOU’VE GOT ABOUT AS LONG A TENURE AS ALMOST ANY OTHER COACH IN ANY OTHER SPORT. HOW CHALLENGING IS IT TO STAY ON TOP OF YOUR GAME? HOW MUCH HAVE YOU HAD TO CHANGE AND ADAPT OVER THE YEARS? "It’s always a challenge to change. I have a very short memory right. It’s easy for me to forget what we did last week, what we did last year, what we did back in 2007. I don’t hang onto those things so it’s easy for me to continuously change. But I’ve had such a great group around me for so many years. Different people at different times for sure, but such a great support staff and everybody at Hendrick Motorsports and the way Rick (Hendrick) promotes and the way Rick continues to try to influence me. He has helped me change over the years and understand what it is and how I need to attack the race team to continuously be successful. If you look at Hendrick Automotive group they were successful at the beginning as well. They don’t stop either and they are just bigger and better than they have ever been. That is the way I see the No. 48. My goal is to whenever the day comes I leave this No. 48 I want it stronger than it was when I got here."


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