By: Ashley McCubbin
When you have four teams under one roof, sometimes there will be a couple who perform well while others struggle. That hasn’t been the case for Hendrick Motorsports in 2021, with two cars reaching victory lane alongside strong top-fives by the other pair.
The success has created excitement across the organization, and Chase Elliott says it reflects back to everybody pushing really hard, and working well together.
“Chad’s (Knaus) new role at HMS I think is rolling these cars to the crew chiefs in a better place than they’ve been in the past,” he told NEWS FROM THE PITS. “I think he’s a guy who pays the attention to detail that it takes to be successful at the Cup level and he’s fought the battle for however many years, a long time. I mean how long has he been around NASCAR, working at all different types of jobs within race teams.
“Absolutely, I think there are some good things going on and we just need to keep pushing. The whole season is important, but having your stuff right at the right time is also important, as well. So, we’ve got to keep our heads down and keep going.”
After crew chiefing for several years, Chad Knaus was moved into the role of Vice President of Competition.
“I feel like where his position has been helpful is when a crew chief sees his car for the first time a week before the race or something,” Elliott explained. “I feel like that crew chief has less work to do on his car to get it ready to go to the track to his standards and I think Chad has had a big impact in having that car show up in a manner that particular crew chief wants it to be in before he sees it for the first time. That makes a big difference.”
Elliott feels the success has comes as a reflection of not only Knaus’ effect, but as well as everyone else working better to collaborate.
“Each individual team putting in a lot of effort to go and be the best we can and that’s really what it comes down to,” he shared. “I don’t think any of the drivers are trying any harder than we have in the past. I think it’s just a really nice effort from the top to the bottom of trying to take four fast racecars to the track every weekend. I do feel like everybody is, I don’t want to say sharing information because we’ve always done that, but just working together a little more from all aspects. You might have some people who work really good together sometimes and other people don’t. Where I feel like, right now, it’s super fluid and everybody’s open about anything and everything, and I feel like it’s showing on track.
“But beyond that, I really feel it’s fundamental upgrades, things that are important on track, being improved upon in the shop and I think each car is benefitting from it.”
Despite the early success, he still recognizes improvements can be made, and says they need to come in every area.
“Everything has to be perfect,” he commented. “There’s not a place where you can be slacking, I feel like, and expect to do well. Boring answer, but if everything’s not right, you’re probably not going to run good.”