Hendrick Motorsports announced new crew chiefs for its Nos. 24 and 48 NASCAR Cup Series teams for the 2019 season.
Chad Knaus, currently the crew chief for Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team, will lead the No. 24 team and William Byron next year, while Kevin Meendering will take over as the crew chief for the No. 48. Darian Grubb will be promoted to technical director after finishing up the 2018 season as Byron’s crew chief.
Knaus is in his 17th season as crew chief for Johnson and the No. 48 team, the longest-running crew chief-driver relationship in NASCAR. The duo has won a record-tying seven Cup Series championships together and made the playoffs a record 15 times.
“It’s no secret that Chad and Jimmie have experienced their ups and downs over the years,” said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. “They’re fierce competitors, great friends and have immense respect for one another. They also fight like brothers. All three of us agree it’s finally time for new challenges and that a change will benefit them and the organization.
“Chad and Jimmie will go down as one of the greatest combinations in sports history,” Hendrick added. “They defied the odds by performing at a championship level for longer than anyone could’ve possibly imagined. What they’ve accomplished together has been absolutely remarkable and will be celebrated for generations. This has been an incredible, storybook run.”
Knaus previously worked on the No. 24 team from 1993 through 1998 under crew chief Ray Evernham, overseeing body development and serving as a tire changer during a run that saw Jeff Gordon win a pair of Cup Series titles in 1995 and 1997.
“You can’t quantify how much Chad’s leadership and championship experience will benefit William, who is a special talent,” Hendrick said of the new pairing for the No. 24. “The two of them are a great match, and I’m excited to see what they can do together. Chad has the Rainbow Warriors pedigree and truly appreciates the history of the No. 24. I’ve asked him to build another winner and given him the green light to put his stamp on the team and do it his way.”
Grubb, who will finish the season in charge of the No. 24 team as Byron vies for Cup Series rookie of the year honors, served in a number of positions at Hendrick Motorsports from 2003-2008 before returning to the organization in 2016. The Virginia native, who won a Cup title as crew chief for Tony Stewart in 2011, will support Hendrick Motorsports’ engineering and vehicle development resources in his new executive leadership role.
“Darian has established himself as a respected leader in our company, and we’ve seen him thrive in an executive role,” Hendrick said. “We’ve identified opportunities for improvement, and we know having him step up to technical director will help move us forward in those areas. He’s a champion who brings a wealth of knowledge that will continue to benefit us.”
Meendering is currently a crew chief at JR Motorsports in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, where he has amassed three wins, 38 top-five finishes, 75 top-10s and the 2017 regular-season title in three years with driver Elliott Sadler.
“We believe these decisions will provide us with a tremendous opportunity for success in the future,” Hendrick said. “As an organization, we are here to win races and compete for championships. Everything we do comes down to putting our people in the best possible positions to further that objective. Winning is what it’s all about.”