One of the most successful NASCAR driver-crew chief partnership will be history at the end of this season.
Hendrick Motorsports announced that El Cajon native Jimmie Johnson will split with Chad Knaus at the end of this season.
The two have been together since 2002 and have won a record-tying seven championships and 83 Cup wins, though the pair has gone through a winless streak of late. Johnson is entering the NASCAR Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday on a 53-race winless streak, the longest winless streak of his career.
In the past two years, Johnson has three wins, six top-five finishes and 21 top-10 finishes — the worst two-year period for the pair in their time together.
“It’s no secret that Chad and Jimmie have experienced their ups and downs over the years,” Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick said in a statement on Wednesday. “They’re fierce competitors, great friends and have immense respect for one another.”
“Chad and Jimmie will go down as one of the greatest combinations in sports history,” Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick said. “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 will become crew chief for William Byron, Hendrick Motorsports‘ No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 team.
Johnson’s new crew chief will be Kevin Meendering, who is returning to Hendrick Motorsports. Meendering was with the organization for 16 years and was the lead engineer for Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s team in 2011.
For the past three seasons, he was Elliott Sadler‘s crew chief, leading the latter to three wins and 38 top-5 finishes.