Sunday, October 25, 2009

Rebuttal to Some Chad Criticism

I'd like to take a moment to address an article I found while cruising around for Chad news to bring to you guys:

For whom the bell tolls: Jimmie Johnson or Chad Knaus? (Janelle Jalbert,

Now, I could spend the entire day writing responses to articles that criticize Chad, but this one was especially mind-boggling, so I thought I'd take the time to put my thoughts into words and try to understand it better. The article's premise is that the reason for all the 48 hate is not, in fact, Jimmie's fault because supposedly he's too vanilla, but rather Chad's fault because...well, the article isn't especially clear on that. Here's what the article does say about Chad:
"While on Twitter during the Charlotte pre-race, it was funny to see NASCAR fans and media alike make repeated comments about the fact that if the television has to show Hendrick, Hendrick and more Hendrick, then they need to stick with Johnson and leave Knaus under the hood or atop the war wagon. Let’s face it; while many see Johnson as vanilla, it is Knaus’s demeanor that often grates on the nerves of NASCAR aficionados.

This is not a discussion of merit, but rather an acknowledgement of the emotional tide. Could fan discontent be more a result of sentiment for Knaus rather than a distain [sic] for Johnson as a driver? Just a thought…"
So basically, according to some people on Twitter, he's on TV too much and has a demeanor that grates on the nerves of fans. Well, obviously I have a completely biased opinion on this, and I could just say I personally think Chad is great and leave it at that, but I'd like to be a little more thorough than this article, so click the link below to read my thoughts on the subject.

So first up, there's the contention that he's on TV too much. Frankly, I like seeing all the crew chiefs - not just Chad - on the race broadcast. It's interesting to see them during pit stops and hear their radio transmissions because it helps tell the whole story of the race. As I constantly have to tell my friends, it's not just a bunch of guys in cars going in circles; it involves a whole lot of behind-the-scenes planning, teamwork, and strategy. If you think that should stay behind the scenes, then I'd counter that you're only interested in half (or less) of NASCAR.  If you don't care how the cars got to the point where the driver could get down into the turn better than everybody else, or pass other cars on a seemingly impossible line, or get a good track position due to a blazingly-fast pit stop, you're pretty much missing most of the show. Crews and crew chiefs are an integral part of the races and should get their time in the limelight. And Chad, who is an especially good crew chief, deserves a little extra attention, if you ask me. Too bad if it's Hendrick, Hendrick, Hendrick. Hendrick's teams are good, thus they're on TV a lot. If someone else wants to be in the limelight, then step right up and win a race! Denny looked like he was feeling pretty good in the spotlight today, for example. Otherwise, expect all aspects of HMS - drivers, crews, and owner - to be front and center.

Plus, he's on two of my favorite non-event shows: NASCAR Performance and This Week in NASCAR. I've learned soooo much from NP it's not even funny; I'd be a complete dumbass about the technical side of NASCAR if it weren't for the four crew chiefs on that show. Also, I think the combination of Chad and Michael Waltrip on TWIN is absolutely classic, comedy-wise. They're like Abbott and Costello or Pinky and the Brain... I don't know why they've got Jimmy Spencer on there now; it's ruining the dynamic, if you ask me, but that's another post for another day. Suffice it to say that if you want intelligent commentary with a technical bent from someone closely involved in NASCAR, why WOULDN'T you go to Chad Knaus?

Next on the list is Chad's demeanor. After reading the article I, who am admittedly probably blinded to his personal defects due to the fact that I have a huge crush on him, didn't understand what part of his demeanor was under fire. A little more explanation and clarification on that point would have been helpful to me, at least (although maybe everyone else got it). After reading the comments below, though, apparently some people (or at least one) think Chad is, well, arrogant. I guess I can see where they're coming from - he does act like he knows he's big man on campus - but to me he just comes off as really confident, which I like and furthermore expect from someone who has to take on the role of fearless leader for a whole crew of guys every weekend. I mean, damn, it's not like he's Juan Pablo Montoya or something. And frankly, the guy's got something he could be a lot more cocky about than he is - after all, he's the only crew chief in history to have won 3 championships in a row. Call me crazy, but if that's arrogance, it's arrogance I approve of.

As for the Chad vs. Jimmie part of it, the 48 haters I know pretty much voice equal dislike for the two of them. Jimmie's too boring; Chad is a cheater. I don't hear much about Chad's demeanor, although apparently some people on Twitter and the guy in the comments section would beg to differ on that issue. I still hear more complaints about the 48 team's overexposure more than anything else, though. People ("people" being the Tony Stewart fans I know) are tired of them winning so many races, especially right at the end of the season like they do, and they're tired of them winning championship after championship. They were more than ready to see someone (preferably Tony) take the championship away from Vanilla and Cheater (poor guys, lol) after last season, and this season has just cemented their dislike for the entire 48 team. I realize some people don't like Chad - I'm certainly not going to dispute that - but I don't think he's the main reason for the backlash against the 48.

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