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Q&A: Chad Knaus.

There is no crew chief in the Sprint Cup garage more adept at planning and executing race strategy and making critical decisions on the fly than Chad Knaus.

Knaus shares the approach that has made him an indispensable part of Jimmie Johnson's Sprint Cup championships.

Q:
How do you plan your race strategy?

Chad Knaus:
I look at the past history of what kinds of races have been produced at the tracks. At a lot of racetracks, you can kind of watch and see the tire fall off and when the car starts to be difficult to control. That's when cautions usually fall. At tracks where it's very physically taxing -- say a Dover or a Darlington, a place like that ... Bristol -- you can almost plan off that.

Q:
Has the introduction of NASCAR's new racecar changed the way you plan a race?

Chad Knaus:
There's definitely been a difference. The severity of the cautions, I'd say, really hasn't changed a whole lot, but the frequency has dropped just a little bit. For instance, at Martinsville we had about a 110- or 112-lap run, which is very uncharacteristic of that racetrack.

Q:
After the Martinsville race, which Johnson won, you mentioned a decision not to pit that had cost you a race in 2003. Are things like that etched in your memory?

Chad Knaus:
There are certain things that really stick with you. Obviously, giving up a race like that at Martinsville is something that you remember. It hurts. So I pay attention to where we make mistakes and try to avoid them happening again.

Q:
When something unexpected happens, such as an ill-timed caution or an unusually long green-flag run, how do you adjust?

Chad Knaus:
You just kind of take it as it comes. You just got to kind of shoot from the hip, and whatever the situation is, you've got to adapt. You have to lay out a bunch of different scenarios and situations in your mind. You have to be mentally prepared for them, of course. But to try to predict what's going to happen in a race … you just can't do it. So you just have to be prepared for all situations to the best of your ability and go from there.

Q:
When the season comes down to the final few races, and you have a sizable lead in the standings and know where you need to finish to clinch the championship, does that change your approach?

Chad Knaus:
Quite honestly, we want to win the championship, and that's first and foremost on our minds, but we're competitors and we want to win races, so it's not very difficult to stay focused. If I spent time on what position we had to finish in those scenarios, I wouldn't be spending the time working on the racecar like I need to be.


by Reid Spencer/Sporting News


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Jimmie Johnson - #49 Lowe`s Chevrolet
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Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s/Superman Chevrolet SS, celebrates his 77th career victory with a wave of the chequered flag Sunday, March 20, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. (Photo by Garry Eller for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s/Superman Chevrolet SS, celebrates his 77th career victory, Sunday, March 20, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. (Photo by Harold Hinson for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s/Superman Chevrolet SS, celebrates his 77th career victory, Sunday, March 20, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. (Photo by Harold Hinson for Chevy Racing)
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Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s / Superman Chevrolet, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 20, 2016 in Fontana, California. (Photo Credit: Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s / Superman Chevrolet, celebrates after taking the chequered flag during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 20, 2016 in Fontana, California. (Photo Credit: Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s / Superman Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 20, 2016 in Fontana, California. (Photo Credit: Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)
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Austin Dillon, driver of the #3 American Ethanol Chevrolet SS, captures the pole position Friday, March 18, 2016 for a front row start in Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Dillon will be joined on the front row with Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS who qualified second. (Photo by Harold Hinson for Chevy Racing)
Austin Dillon, driver of the #3 American Ethanol Chevrolet SS, with team owner and grandfather Richard Childress after capturing the pole position Friday, March 18, 2016 for a front row start in Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Dillon will be joined on the front row with Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS who qualified second. (Photo by Harold Hinson for Chevy Racing)
Austin Dillon, driver of the #3 American Ethanol Chevrolet SS, captures the pole position Friday, March 18, 2016 for a front row start in Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Dillon will be joined on the front row with Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS who qualified second. (Photo by Harold Hinson for Chevy Racing)

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