Chad Knaus to miss Kansas race for birth of daughter

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Crew chief Chad Knaus will miss Thursday night’s Cup race at Kansas Speedway as he and his wife Brooke await the birth of their second child, a girl, Hendrick Motorsports announced Tuesday.

Keith Rodden, a former crew chief, will take Knaus’ place on William Byron‘s team Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN). Knaus’ absence comes as Byron enters the race two points behind the cutoff for the final playoff spot.

“Originally, this was going to be a stretch of back-to-back off weekends for us and everything was going to go to plan so I could be home for those two weeks,” Knaus said in a press release. “Unfortunately, we now have two races in one week due to the shift in the schedule from the pandemic. Either way, we still have a great plan in place so that I get to be by Brooke’s side, and we can welcome our baby girl together.”

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Rodden has called 138 Cup Series races as a crew chief for drivers Jamie McMurray and Kasey Kahne. He led Kahne to his final Cup win on July 23, 2017 at Indianapolis. Thursday’s race also also on July 23.

Rodden, who also won the 2014 All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway with McMurray, has been the No. 24 team’s designated backup as Hendrick Motorsports planned for Knaus’ potential absence.

“I’ve known Chad for years, and our communication with each other is great,” Rodden said in a press release. “I’ve also been working with William and the No. 24 team the last several weeks in anticipation of this moment. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to step in and represent Axalta and Hendrick Motorsports. I want to get the best possible result, but the ultimate goal is to show up to win and bring a trophy back for Chad and his family.”

Rodden will be the third crew chief Bryon’s worked with in his Cup career. He worked with Darian Grubb his rookie year.

“I’m excited for Chad and Brooke on having their second child,” Byron said in a press release. “This is an important moment for them as a family. While we will miss Chad at the track on Thursday, I know that Keith will do a good job taking over during his absence.

“No matter the situation, the goal remains the same for the No. 24 team and we’re all committed to it.”