Johnson's crew chief absent from test
Chad Knaus was missing in action during the first day of Preseason Thunder at Daytona International Speedway on Thursday.
Although his absence was unusual, there was a simple explanation: vacation.
Yes, the Hendrick Motorsports championship crew chief who led Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 Lowe’s team to five consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup titles has opted to find relaxation before the season officially begins again.
Steve Letarte, crew chief of the No. 88 Chevrolet, will supervise both programs during the test. The No. 48 team will report to lead engineer Greg Ives and car chief Ron Malec.
The Hendrick cars didn't appear to be suffering during Knaus' absence. Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson topped the speed chart early in the test.
“We all take vacation,” Letarte said. “I took one in December, he’s taking one now. So, it’s a long year. It’s hard to fit one in. My responsibilities are what they usually are I just take a few more trips down to the 48 to see how Ron and Greg are doing. But they’re basically running the test. I just make sure they don’t have any questions. They’re very experienced people, obviously, they’ve won a bunch of championships in that group, so I think they’re more than capable of running this test.”