*Notice of correction: This story originally stated that Chad Knaus would be making his 700th NASCAR Cup Series start as a crew chief in Saturday’s NASCAR Cup Series Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona. Upon futher review, Racing-Reference.info (listed as the official historical database by NASCAR Digital) had an incorrect total of starts for Knaus in the 2007 season. Knaus was suspended for six races that season due to an infraction where he altered the fenders on the No. 48 car of tomorrow. Racing Reference had Knaus listed as missing four races that season.
We apologize for the error, and the story below has been updated to reflect the fact that Knaus will actually reach career-start No. 698 this weekend.
Chad Knaus – one of the most pivotal aspects of Jimmie Johnson’s record-tying seven NASCAR Cup Series Championships — along with 1999 NASCAR Cup Series championship winning crew chief Todd Parrott, will be crossing a milestone within a couple of weeks of each other. Parrott will accomplish the feat on Saturday Night at Daytona International Speedway, when his driver JJ Yeley (No. 27) takes the green flag. Knaus should accomplish the 700-milestone in two weeks when the green flag waves at Richmond Raceway.
700-career NASCAR Cup Series starts as crew chiefs is a milestone in which few crew chiefs have crossed over the years.
While Saturday’s race will revolve around a more pressing situation for Knaus then it will Parrott – as Hendrick Motorsports tries to get both Jimmie Johnson and William Byron into the NASCAR Cup Series’ post-season — the calamity and chaos that is notorious with Daytona – much less with it being the regular season finale — is enough to give even the youngest crew chiefs gray hair.
Parrott on the other hand, sees Saturday Night’s Coke Zero Sugar 400 as an opportunity, as his race team Rick Ware Racing, doesn’t necessarily have the raw pace to run with the larger budget teams at the short tracks and intermediate tracks, but comes to Daytona with a chance to play spoiler for all of the NASCAR Cup Series’ Goliaths, much like Spire Motorsports did with Justin Haley in 2019.
Wins: 31 | Top 5s: 145 | Top 10s: 235 | Poles: 23 | Laps: 198,073 | Led: 6,884 | AVG Fin: 18.5
Since making his debut in the NASCAR Cup Series as a crew chief 25 years ago, Todd Parrott has been a mainstay in the NASCAR Cup Series garage, contesting at least one race as a crew chief in 24 of the last 25 seasons.
Parrott’s work in NASCAR began long before he was called upon to be a crew chief, as the now 56-year old worked alongside his father Buddy Parrott at DiGard Racing, as well as serving on the crew for Richard Petty’s 200th NASCAR Cup Series victory in 1984, and as the rear tire carrier in Rusty Wallace’s incredible runner-up points finish nearly ten years later in 1993.
Two seasons later in 1995, Parrott got the opportunity to make his debut as a crew chief NASCAR Cup Series for Robert Yates Racing’s part-time No. 88 entry. In Parrott’s second race, Ernie Irvan scored a seventh-place finish in the final race of the 1995 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season.
In hopes of claiming the first championship for Robert Yates Racing at NASCAR’s top level, Parrott was called upon to be the full-time crew chief for Dale Jarrett’s No. 88 in 1996. The partnership started off with a crown jewel win in the 1996 Daytona 500, and continued to flourish throughout the 1996 season, resulting in a third-place effort in the final point standings.
The Parrott-Jarrett relationship would come to a conclusion at the end of 2002, netting 26 victories and the 1999 NASCAR Winston Cup Series Championship for the duo, the only NASCAR championship for Robert Yates Racing in its history. Parrott would stay with Robert Yates Racing until 2005, working as a part-time crew chief for Elliott Sadler and Dale Jarrett from 2003 to 2005, adding an additional three race wins to his resume.
Parrott elected to leave Robert Yates Racing after 2005, in order to work with Bobby Labonte and Richard Petty Motorsports, but eventually returned to the team 14 races into the 2006 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series season. Parrott would continue to have a home at Robert Yates Racing until moving over to work with affiliate team Hall of Fame Racing, who replaced him with Ben Leslie ten races into the 2009 season.
Parrott continued to work within the Ford network of teams, moving to Roush Fenway Racing in 2010, where he became the crew chief for Matt Kenseth after the 2010 Daytona 500. Parrott was released from the team mid-season, and would move over to Richard Petty Motorsports, where he would pick up his two most recent wins in the NASCAR Cup Series with Marcos Ambrose at Watkins Glen in 2011 and 2012. Parrott would continue to work with the organization until October of 2013, when he was indefinitely suspended for the violation of NASCAR’s substance abuse policy.
After being reinstated, Parrott would continue to hop around from team to team in the NASCAR Cup Series, contesting the full 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule as crew chief for Reed Sorenson at Tommy Baldwin Racing.
The following year, Parrott was promoted the competition director of Richard Childress Racing’s NASCAR Xfinity Series program, while working as crew chief on the team’s part-time entry in the NASCAR Cup Series, working with Ty Dillon, Michael Annett, Brian Scott and even Ryan Newman – after normal crew chief Luke Lambert was serving a six-race suspension.
Parrott would continue to jump around in 2016, finding a home at Leavine Family Racing on a part-time basis with drivers Michael McDowell and Ty Dillon, before being named the full-time crew chief of the team’s No. 95 for 2017. Parrott was relieved from his duties 31 races into the season.
Unable to find any work at a mid-level organization, Parrott took his expertise to Premium Motorsports for 2018, working as the crew chief on the team’s No. 7/55 entry for sixteen races, working with Ross Chastain, JJ Yeley, Jeffrey Earnhardt, DJ Kennington and Jesse Little. Parrott would not return to Premium Motorsports in 2019, ending a streak of 23 consecutive seasons as a crew chief in the NASCAR Cup Series for the seasoned veteran.
Earlier this season, Parrott announced he would be returning to the NASCAR Cup Series with Rick Ware Racing, taking a position within the four-car organization. This season alone, Parrott has worked with Rick Ware Racing and BJ McLeod Motorsports, serving as crew chief for drivers BJ McLeod, Garrett Smithley, Josh Bilicki and James Davison. For Parrott’s 700th start, JJ Yeley will pilot the No. 27 for Rick Ware Racing at Daytona on Saturday Night.
Wins: 81 | Top 5s: 225 | Top 10s: 367 | Poles: 42 | Laps: 198,538 | Led: 18,888 | AVG Fin: 13.6
Chad Knaus’ debut as a NASCAR Cup Series crew chief came nearly 20 years ago, as Knaus was on the pit box for two of Casey Atwood’s four races at Evernham Motorsports in 2000. In fact, Knaus’ first appearance for Hendrick Motorsports as a crew chief, wasn’t until the 2002 Daytona 500, but his relationship with the powerhouse organization started in the 1990’s.
In 1993, Knaus was hired to work as a general fabricator for Hendrick Motorsports’ No. 24 team – which at the time, was home to NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon — eventually moving his way through the organization, becoming the manager of the chassis and body construction program for the No. 24 team.
From 1995 to 2013, Knaus was an integral part in eight of the eighteen championships that were awarded in the period, with Knaus serving as a rear-tire changer on the original “Rainbow Warriors” crew when Jeff Gordon won the 1995 and 1997 NASCAR Winston Cup Series Championships, in addition to his six championships as a crew chief for Jimmie Johnson in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2012 and 2013.
Knaus is in the middle of a battle for the final Playoff berth spot in the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series point standings, as his driver William Byron has a four-point edge on Jimmie Johnson heading into the final regular season race of the season on Saturday night.
Knaus by serving as crew chief this weekend, next weekend at Darlington Raceway and the week after in Richmond, will join Parrott with 700-career starts.
In regards to the future past 2020, it’s unclear at this time what the plan for Knaus is. His contract with Hendrick Motorsports will have reached its conclusion when a champion is crowned at Phoenix Raceway in November, and between the average performance of the No. 24 team, Knaus’ growing family, and the retirement of long-time driver and friend Jimmie Johnson, hanging up the headset may be on the mind of the 49-year old.