Chad Knaus’s bold pit call gamble backfires

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Chad Knaus is one of the biggest gambling crew chiefs in Sprint Cup. He takes chances and plays the odds when other crew chiefs would rather play it safe.

More often than not, Knaus’s gambles have paid off quite handsomely, particularly during the record-setting, five-season Sprint Cup championship run by his driver, Jimmie Johnson, from 2006-2010.

But in Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway, Knaus made a rare gamble that didn’t pay off.

Surprisingly, if not shockingly, Knaus called for just two tires on Johnson’s final pit stop of the race. You would think that with all the twists and turns Johnson had to do on the nearly 2-mile road course, that Knaus would outfit him with fresh rubber on all four corners of the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.

Perhaps Knaus was trying to get Johnson a competitive advantage with the two-tire stop. After all, because of significantly cooler than expected temperatures during the race, both in the air and on the racing surface, tires did not wear as much as crew chiefs likely anticipated.

But in the end, Johnson faded in the closing laps as several drivers passed him. He ultimately finished ninth, when he appeared headed to an easy top-five, maybe even top-three showing.

Rebellion confirms LMP1 return, all-star line-up for WEC super season

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Rebellion Racing has confirmed it will return to the LMP1 class of the FIA World Endurance Championship for the 2018/19 ‘super season’ with an all-star line-up featuring Le Mans winners Neel Jani and Andre Lotterer.

Rebellion raced in LMP1 as a privateer between 2009 and 2016 before stepping down to LMP2 for the most recent season, capturing the class titles at the first attempt.

Following a push from the WEC and Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) to make LMP1 more appealing to privateer teams, Rebellion announced on Wednesday it would return to the premier class for the 2018/19 season with a two-car effort.

WEC LMP2 champion Bruno Senna will return with Rebellion next year, as will Mathias Beche, with the pair set to be joined by four new faces.

The most notable arrivals are Porsche factory drivers Lotterer and Jani, both of whom were left without an LMP1 drive following the closure of the German manufacturer’s program at the end of the season.

American racer Gustavo Menezes will also join Rebellion, stepping up after two years in LMP2, while outstanding 2017 rookie Thomas Laurent completes the Swiss team’s line-up.

“I am looking forward to coming back where my endurance career started nine years ago,” said Jani.

“Rebellion Racing played a huge role in my career and also helped me become a factory driver for Porsche. When Porsche stopped in LMP1, it was clear for me that I wanted to race again for Rebellion.

“With the new regulations, I hope we can reach the overall podium at Le Mans and with a bit of luck, maybe we can even grab some wins during the super season of WEC.”

“I am very happy to join the champion Rebellion team,” added three-time Le Mans winner Lotterer.

“The LMP1 project is very exciting and to be able to go on with the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the FIA WEC challenge is something I did not want to miss.

“I am motivated and looking forward to have a great time with great people there.”