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Sports & Fitness // Hot Air
Steve Murray

Knaus Is Keeping With Tradition

Sports fans is the cwaziest peoples.

With apologies to famed director Chuck Jones and his animated 1948 classic, Scaredy Cat, it is jerseytoting middle-agers and not agitated felines who are most in need of professional help. Why else would normal, rather welladjusted people be so scattered when it comes to the implementation of sporting edicts?

Gaylord Perry was a lovable scamp whereas Barry Bonds is the worst person on earth. It is with this in mind that we bring up Chad Knaus, crew chief for NASCAR driver Jimmy Johnson.

Knaus and car chief Ron Malec were suspended for six races and fined $100,000 for having illegal C-posts on the No. 48 Chevy.

It doesn’t matter that you don’t know a C-post from a C-cup or how the misshaped piece of skin is going to hand Johnson his sixth Sprint Cup Championship. What we do know is that Knaus was accused of cheating. In NASCAR, that means accused of doing his job.

Such criminal activity doesn’t put Knaus in the same class as Bernie Madoff or French skating judges, but it does suggest a relationship with Rick Flair. The Nature Boy openly boasted and was universally celebrated for being “the dirtiest player in the game.” Knaus’s most recent runin with the law was the ninth of his career.

Like the Charlotte native who mastered the low blow and used any number of hidden items to gain an advantage, Knaus gets paid to win by whatever means necessary. And to be honest, we wouldn’t have it any other way.

NASCAR is a rebel sport by nature. Birthed by moonshiners and coaxed into the mainstream by a steady stream of whiskey drinkers and hell-raisers, the sport modernized without completely abandoning its roots.

Each car leaves pit row clean and unrumpled, but returns in much worse condition. Why? Because “rubbin’ is racin’”? Sure. But also because templates don’t fit neatly over wrinkled fenders and broken bumpers.

Pat Tryson, who has worked for Penske Racing, Roush Fenway Racing and is now crew chief for David Gilliland, applauded Knaus.

“It’s your job to push the gray areas, isn’t it?” he asked reporters prior to the Daytona 500. “That’s what we all signed up for. I give Chad credit because that’s what we should all be doing.”

Imagine major league managers congratulating Manny Ramirez for thinking outside the box, or looking inside a bottle, to gain a competitive edge. It would never happen, and we’d be outraged if it did. Not so with stock car racing. NASCAR is a lot like riding a Harley-Davidson, it’s rebellion in easy-tomanage amounts large enough to provide thrills without any real chance of danger.

Though Johnson was docked 25 points for the infraction, the suspension will have little real effect on the team’s success.

Knaus will be in the garage, attend meetings and will work on perfecting the setup for each race. He’ll still be in charge, just not at the race track. And when he does return, it may be to a hero’s welcome.

“We’ve all been fined before. I’ve got a couple of hundred thousand dollars’ worth of fines. It doesn’t make us bad people,” said team owner and longtime crew chief Tommy Baldwin, in a report by David Newton for ESPN.

Amen, brother, amen.

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