Chad Knaus is stepping off the pit box for a promotion of sorts at Hendrick Motorsports in a VP of competition role. While a guy like Knaus has more than earned his time in a high up office with a great view lined with his 7 trophies, the young man he’s leaving behind on the track is a different story.
The true storyline from this, is what happens to William Byron? Chad Knaus was already in high favor at HMS whether it was in his title or not. It causes me to ask the question, why step away now?
A guy like Chad Knaus doesn’t have a lot left to prove in NASCAR, but it’s more a matter of what he was supposed to do with his current driver William Byron? Byron was touted as the next phenom to take over the sport with Chase Elliott. Sending Knaus over to the 24-team was supposed to help usher in this new driver to NASCAR stardom.
William Byron has not lived up to the hype at this point in his three year career. Even with his first win coming this year, there are still alot of questions about whether Byron has what it takes to be a top tier Cup driver. This year has shown a regression in his average finish and he was a quick exit in the playoffs.
When Hendrick Motorsports made the decision to send Chad Knaus over to Byron’s team it was widely believed that Knaus would begin to lead this young driver into reaching his true potential, but it hasn’t been the case.
A personal theory I have is that Knaus is giving up on the young Byron and is ready to move onto a more laid back profession. Is this the first sign that we might be dealing with a NASCAR bust? I believe it’s possible. The big question is why would Knaus choose to leave now? I think because he know’s there is nothing worth staying in the garage for with Byron, or at least not going to be worth anything anytime soon.
Don’t get me wrong, Byron is talented. He is a bit of a victim of the youth movement taking over NASCAR. The owners have been promoting drivers sooner and sooner and not allowing for proper development. William Byron has talent, but only spending two total years in NASCAR development until being htrust into a Cup ride at 20-years old would not be ideal for anyone.
Now with his Hall of Fame crew chief leaving him, it seems that Byron’s Cup career is only going to have an even steeper hill to climb.