Knaus wants to stay with JJ long-term

Updated: November 25, 2009, 2:27 PM ET
By David Newton | ESPN.com

HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- Team owner Rick Hendrick said on Tuesday that Chad Knaus would like to stay in the role of crew chief for Jimmie Johnson for at least five more years.

Hendrick said he is working on a deal to keep Knaus at Hendrick Motorsports for the long term.

"I plan for him to retire here," Hendrick said.

Knaus and Johnson teamed up on Sunday to win a record fourth straight Sprint Cup title.

"Chad and I have talked about what he would like to do down the road," Hendrick said on a NASCAR conference call. "Chad and I are looking at other things to secure his future and investments.

"He likes his role as crew chief right now ... but down the road when he's tired of being a crew chief he can make a big impact on the whole company and he's already doing that. If he gets tired of it in three years we'll do something else. But he tells me that he wants to do this, and the number he gave me was another five years."

[+] EnlargeJimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus
AP Photo/Lynne SladkyRick Hendrick would like Jimmie Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus to remain a team.

Knaus, who is still working under an extension signed in 2006 that runs through next season, has been Johnson's crew chief since Johnson entered the Cup series full-time in 2002. The team has never finished worse than fifth in points, and under Knaus, Johnson has won four straight titles and earned 47 victories.

"We've only started very light conversations," Knaus said Wednesday. "I don't have a new contract, and we've barely had enough conversation for me to agree to anything."

Although Knaus said it is his intention to stay with Hendrick Motorsports, "you never know what will happen. There are so many what-ifs."

Knaus began his NASCAR career with Hendrick in 1993 as an original member of Jeff Gordon's "Rainbow Warriors" crew. He left Hendrick after the 1997 season to try to advance his career, but returned in 2002, when Hendrick formed Johnson's new team.

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

David Newton | email

ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter

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