Chad Knaus said it would “difficult” both emotionally and financially for him to walk away from NASCAR if he and Jimmie Johnson won a record eighth Cup Series title.
The financial aspect likely only impacts the crew chief.
“I’ve got a mortgage, man,” Knaus said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “Tradin’ Paint” on Wednesday. “I’ve got to keep a job. Jimmie can probably scoot on out without a huge financial burden. But I can’t.”
Joking aside, Knaus said the prospect of pursuing yet another title after a hypothetical eighth would be too much to ignore.
“We’ve got a couple more years left in us I feel,” Knaus said. “I think Jimmie’s far from being done. I think he’s still got a lot of talent left inside his body to go out there and extract. I think Hendrick Motorsports provides us with such a great opportunity to go out there and make it happen. If you get eight, naturally you’d want to go try and get another one. We’ve just got to go out there and just race and that’s what we do.”
Johnson and Knaus are not kids anymore. They earned their seventh titles last November at the ages of 41 and 45 respectively. But the majority of the team that supports the No. 48 is new to the game.
“Our big group with the 48 car, they’re just getting mature now,” Knaus told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “A lot of our guys are fairly young and maybe in only their second or third year. These guys are just reaching their full potential. I think 2017 is going to be a fantastic year for this team to come into its own.”
They’ll be doing so under NASCAR’s new race and points format.
Knaus and company have adapted to every format NASCAR has used since 2004, though Johnson was eliminated from contention in the first round in 2015 after a part failure at Dover International Speedway.
Knaus believes a similar situation could still “take you out of the whole ball game.”
“It’s just getting in there and figuring out what it is,” Knaus said of the new format. “I think you’re going to see unique opportunities for guys to get bonus points, or playoff points, that they would not ordinarily have gotten. There’s going to be some uniqueness to that standpoint. You’re going to see a lot of guys get stage wins that maybe don’t get race wins, right? Those guys are going to get more points and potentially put themselves into a position to go out there and transfer into the (playoffs) where maybe they would not have.”
Knaus and Johnson will begin figuring out their latest obstacle to a championship in the Feb. 26 Daytona 500.