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-- In Chad Knaus' meticulously neat office at Hendrick Motorsports, the presence of one memento and the conspicuous absence of so many others reveals much about NASCAR's greatest active crew chief.Of all his Sprint Cup success with Jimmie Johnson, Knaus keeps only one trophy – marking the No.They have a long history at Hendrick, having worked as crewmembers on Jeff Gordon's No.24 that won the championship in 1995, when Letarte watched Knaus regularly butt heads with his mentor, Evernham."He doesn't have the best bedside manner but really gets results," Letarte said.But entering a season in which he and Johnson will chase a record-tying seventh title in NASCAR's premier series starting in Sunday's Daytona 500, Knaus is single (again), childless and resigned to those being necessary sacrifices."Man, I have failed at that one miserably," he tells USA TODAY Sports with a chuckle. Ray Evernham, who was voted the greatest crew chief in history by a 2006 media panel, hired Knaus at Hendrick more than 20 years ago and recalls the Rockford, Ill., native telling him, "I want to be you within five years." He estimates Knaus has toiled 90-100 hours a week since to achieve it, starting with voluntary double shifts between the team's body shop and a suspension area so he could learn all facets of a stock car."This is all that this guy has ever wanted to do and be," Evernham said."He's made an unbelievable commitment to become the best crew chief of his time, and he's well on the way to being the best crew chief ever.

48 hauler had been painted blue and immediately asked if it had been run by Knaus."You make any decisions, you have to include him," Landis said. I think some look at it as, 'He's trying to find a chink in my armor or error in my work to pick on me.' But if he finds something that could have been done better according to directives, you have to wear it."Ron Malec, who has been the No.

"If things aren't going well, I'm not really concerned about someone who's been stuck all day long wanting to go get dinner.

I'd rather open up my computer and go to work."It has limited his interaction in a sport where the downtime often is built around small talk with competitors."He's very cordial, but I don't know him that well like other crew chiefs," Petree said. That's it."A lot of crew chiefs want to share setup info.

in 1998, also has witnessed the transformation."Chad has done an amazing job of eliminating his weaknesses," Waltrip said.

"Because the rap on Chad was he couldn't work with anybody. But from the time I met him, he had only one thing in mind: He wanted to be the best crew chief in racing."Chit-chat not his style Knaus wakes at a.m.

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