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Chad's Back!!

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Foul weather aside, Knaus glad to be back in NASCAR foldNextel Cup qualifying canceled at Tennessee track


By DAVID POOLEThe Charlotte Observer


BRISTOL, Tenn. - The weather was just plain ugly on Friday, but Bristol Motor Speedway looked great to Chad Knaus.

"It's great to be back," Knaus said on a day when cold rain and even a few snow flurries kept Nextel Cup and Busch cars off the track all day. "I have been looking forward to coming to Bristol probably for the first time in my career."

Knaus returns to the track this week as crew chief for Jimmie Johnson's No. 48 Chevrolets after serving out a four-race suspension for a rules violation found in inspection following qualifying for the Daytona 500.

In Knaus' absence, Johnson and the team Knaus helped put together won the Daytona 500 and also won at Las Vegas, finished second at California and was sixth on Monday at Atlanta. That has Johnson first in the Nextel Cup standings as Knaus returns to action.

"I am really proud of what my guys were able to accomplish," Knaus said.

"Those guys, when they came to the race track, they came with a goal, and that was to uphold the integrity of the team and show everybody out there what this team is capable of doing and they did that. I could not be prouder of that."

Knaus said it was "tough, very tough" for him to sit at home and watch his team's races on television as he sat out more than a month's worth of action.

"It's something we had to go through because I made a mistake," he said. "I went out there and did something that wasn't to NASCAR's liking and I had to stay home for four races because of that.

"That was probably the most painful thing in my life. There's nothing in the world that means more to me than this race team. I have been a part of it since its inception. Some of those guys were barely out of high school when I hired them. To see them go out there on their own and run those races and me not be there was extremely painful. But it was also very cool at the same time."

Darian Grubb served as interim crew chief in Knaus' absence, and several other members of the Hendrick Motorsports-owned team stepped up to take on additional responsibilities.

"We had a plan in place, but it's very hard to have everything play out as planned," Johnson said. "Once practice or the race started it was between Darian and I to communicate and the other guys in the pits to work with Darian and to share information and talk and come up with the ideas.

"I have to admit California was stressful for all of us going into it. We didn't know what to expect. We didn't know how it was going to unfold. In the middle of the race the car wasn't handling like we needed it to and we started making the right adjustments and rallied back to finish second."

Knaus said that the suspension forced him to learn a lesson he already knew he needed to learn last year.

Johnson led the Nextel Cup standings for much of the early part of the 2005 season as the team was once again in contention for its first Nextel Cup title, but Knaus said that he, Johnson and team owner Rick Hendrick had decided in the offseason that a different approach was necessary.

"I am my own worst enemy," Knaus said. "Last year we were in such a dogfight trying to continue to lead the points and be there at the end and be the dominant team. ...I got tired, I got worn out. ...I have to be able to pull back, to take a day off.

"I hate to say it, but I was forced to learn that these past four weeks. Now it is a matter of whether I can keep it going. We will be better and maybe we will win the championship if I do that."

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"It's something we had to go through because I made a mistake," he said


one more "mistake" and Hedrick will fire him


so what will he tamper with this week fellers, anyone want to guess?

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