Hendrick Motorsports crew chief Chad Knaus will not travel to Kansas Speedway for the NASCAR Cup Series race on Thursday night.
Knaus and wife Brooke are expecting their second child, keeping Knaus home in Charlotte, North Carolina. Keith Rodden will serve as crew chief for William Byron and the No. 24 Chevrolet team in the Super Start Batteries 400 (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN).
“Originally, this was going to be a stretch of back-to-back off weekends for us, and everything was going to go to plan so I could be home for those two weeks,” said Knaus. “Unfortunately, we now have two races in one week due to a shift in the schedule from the pandemic. Either way, we still have a great plan in place so that I get to be by Brooke’s side, and we can welcome our baby girl together.”
“We have a lot of depth to pull from in this situation at Hendrick Motorsports, and I know Keith is more than capable of getting the job done,” Knaus continued. “I have all the faith that it will be a solid race for him and the No. 24 team.”
Kansas will be the first time Rodden has been on the pit box since 2017 when he oversaw Kasey Kahne’s team. They won one race that year, though Rodden moved off the team before the season’s end. Since then, Rodden has been a project manager for Hendrick Motorsports and has been helping its four teams from the shop as an engineer under COVID restrictions.
“I’m super pumped to get to the track again and help out Chad, William, and the No. 24 team,” said Rodden. “Being present for the birth of your child is important, especially in the world we are in now. That’s a moment you don’t want to take for granted. Myself and everyone at Hendrick Motorsports support Chad and his family 100 percent in whatever they need.
“I’ve known Chad for years, and our communication with each other is great,” Rodden continued. “I’ve also been working with William and the No. 24 team the last several weeks in anticipation of this moment. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to step in and represent Axalta and Hendrick Motorsports. I want to get the best possible result, but the ultimate goal is to show up to win and bring a trophy back for Chad and his family.”
Byron is 17th on the playoff grid after a DNF last weekend at Texas, his second of the season. Eight races remain in the regular season, and Byron admitted, “It’s going to be tough” to make the postseason for the second straight year.
The team has just one top-10 finish in the last five races.
“We have to find speed first,” said Byron after Texas. “We’re not really running good at all, and we’ve got to figure that out. … We’ve just got to figure it out and figure it out quick before the fall.”