KANNAPOLIS, N.C. – Danica Patrick begins a new era with this week’s AAA Texas 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.
After two good years with crew chief Tony Gibson, she now welcomes Daniel Knost as the head of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS. Knost is the interim crew chief and brings along his road crew from the No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) entry of Kurt Busch. Gibson and his road crew move to Busch and the Haas Automation team. The pit crews remain the same.
Knost worked with Patrick as an engineer for eight races at SHR in 2012 under Greg Zipadelli. He is also very well educated, having graduated from North Carolina State University in 2001 with a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering.
He continued his pursuit of higher education at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Virginia, where he earned a Master of Science degree in mechanical engineering in 2003 and a doctorate in the same field in 2008.
As crew chief for Busch, Knost scored a win in March at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and led Busch to the 16-driver Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship. In 2013 he was the race engineer for Ryan Newman and won at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and helped lead the team to the 13-driver Chase for the Championship.
Patrick is hoping Knost will continue her success as she nears the end of her second full year in the Sprint Cup Series. Their first race will be at Texas and it is a place that Patrick has had some success.
In four Sprint Cup races, her best finish was 24th in November 2012, but her NASCAR Nationwide Series and IndyCar results are promising.
Patrick has four Nationwide starts with three top-14 finishes, including an eighth in April 2012. In eight IndyCar starts, she has five top-10 results, including second place in June 2012, and she also led three laps.
As Patrick and Knost begin their working relationship this weekend, both are hoping for good things in Texas.
DANICA PATRICK, Driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:
You have a new crew chief for the last three races. Talk about that.
“With NASCAR changing some rules and letting us know at this point what they are going to be for next year, we know that we are not going to get a lot of on-track time before next season. So if the team wants changes made or has ideas, it’s probably in everybody’s best interest to make moves now so that things can start off on the right foot for 2015 instead of starting from scratch and trying to develop an accurate dialogue and relationship on the radio. I know Daniel (Knost). He was my race engineer when I did eight races with (Greg) Zipadelli for Stewart-Haas in 2012. Really nice guy, very smart, and he is definitely a lot like the kind of engineers – and, in fact, in IndyCar it is called an engineer instead of a crew chief – that I was used to dealing with. We have gotten along, anyway, regardless of whether he has been on my car or not. I’m definitely open minded and looking forward to the opportunity to see how it will go with him.”
Talk about working with engineers during your IndyCar days?
“I just think that it is something that I’m used to. I’m used to someone who has an engineering approach to what they do and I don’t think that it has to be that way, but I think everybody is looking for some magic and a relationship that takes you to the next level. And maybe getting back to something that actually I haven’t really had in NASCAR, yet – I’ve had kind of all more crew-chief-style crew chiefs, old-school crew chiefs – maybe it will be something that will work better.”
Knost is listed as interim. Do you feel you can work together with him in 2015?
“I think that we click about communicating the things that are felt in the racecar and then conveyed over the radio and the changes that are made in relationship to that. If that takes a fast course in a good direction, and we seem to click well and make progress throughout the weekend, then I think that will be a really positive sign. I think that is always a challenge. If that is good, then that is, I feel like, a good sign for the future. I know I already get along with him as a person. As I’ve said, I’ve worked with him before and I’ve seen him plenty of times in the shop. We’ve chatted plenty of times. I know I get along with him. Now it’s time to see if we get along in a competitive atmosphere where it becomes more technical than just friendship.”
DANIEL KNOST, Crew chief of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:
What are you goals with Danica during the Texas weekend?
“At Texas, I think she was pretty good in qualifying and in race trim in the spring. She’s run well at the 1.5-mile tracks recently, so for me, we just want to continue that progress. I think Stewart-Haas has had pretty good setups at these tracks and we just want to continue to get better and better.”
What are the goals of the last three races?
“I always tell people that whatever is the highest position we run all day, that’s where I want to finish. In general, we want to run as well as we can, make good decisions in practice on setups and improve the speed of the car. We want to make good decisions during the race as far as strategy and we want to just build the rapport between us and make sure we understand each other and how we communicate.”
You worked with her for eight races in 2012. Talk about that.
“We got along really well and I think she has evolved a lot as a racecar driver and, hopefully, I’ve evolved a lot as an engineer and a crew chief. Even though we know each other, it will kind of be a new experience for both of us.”
- Tom Jensen
NASCAR Editor at FOXSports.com & RACER Magazine