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What will be the impact of offseason changes at Hendrick Motorsports

What will be the impact of the big changes at Hendrick Motorsports?

A look at what we can expect to see from Hendrick Motorsports in 2021 and beyond.

Rick Hendrick has never been afraid of change, but it’s hard to imagine an offseason when his race teams have gone through more changes than this offseason. Jimmie Johnson, a seven-time champion and certainly one of the greatest drivers of all time has retired, Chad Knaus, the only crew chief that’s never missed the NASCAR playoffs will no longer be on top of the pit box, and some dirt-track hotshot named Larson is climbing behind the wheel of the iconic No. 5 car in 2021. Oh, and let’s not forget that the guys at Hendrick will be expanding their trophy case in the offseason to make room Chase Elliott’s championship trophy. With everything going on, what can we expect from Hendrick Motorsports (HMS) in 2021 and beyond?

Let’s start with the promotion of Chad Knaus. That’s right, his new role is considered a promotion. Instead of calling the shots for one of the four HMS teams, he will be influencing all of the teams at HMS in his new role as Vice President of Competition. Chad may not be making the calls for two tires or four tires, but his fingerprints will be all over the HMS cars, and he may ultimately have more impact at HMS now than when he was winning seven championships with Jimmie Johnson. In his new role, Chad will be overseeing technical development, engineering, fabrication and other aspects of the day-to-day operations at Hendrick. These responsibilities match up perfectly with Chad’s talents, and there may never be a better marriage of the “right person in the right job” than Chad Knaus and his new role at Hendrick. If you think about these new responsibilities, “technical development, engineering and fabrication” and then look at Chad’s history of, how shall I say this, “operating in the gray area of the rulebook”, it seems like the perfect recipe for fast cars, and headaches for the NASCAR inspectors. Chad Knaus is kind of the “mad scientist” of the NASCAR garage area, and putting him in this role is just giving the mad scientist a bigger and better laboratory to work in, so expect big, and innovative, things from the Hendrick stable this year.

In addition to Chad’s new role, they have a championship to celebrate this offseason, thanks to Chase Elliott. HMS hasn’t had a chance to celebrate a championship since 2016. That may not seem like a long time, but the last time HMS had a drought that long, was in 2006, when Jimmie won his first championship. Don’t underestimate the confidence that comes with winning this year’s championship, not just for the Chase Elliott crew, but for the entire organization. HMS had to feel like they were slipping behind a little bit when Joe Gibbs Racing had won two of the last three championships, especially when the 2019 Championship Four included three entries from the Joe Gibbs stable. With the 2020 championship coming back to the Hendrick garage, the combination of talent, momentum and confidence could be deadly for the competition in 2021.

As David Pearson once said “You can’t just throw a brick in the driver’s seat and expect to win races”, so let’s take a look at the drivers at HMS. This is a YOUNG group of drivers, and that’s one of the most overlooked aspects of HMS. Let’s compare the current HMS drivers and see how they stack up against Jimmie Johnson at the same age.