The 2019 NASCAR season is one of significant change.
Which changes have us the most eager to get the season underway in 31 days?
Same Team, Different Car
How long will it take before Chad Knaus accidentally visits the wrong hauler during a race weekend?
It seems like a plausible scenario given that NASCAR’s most successful crew chief of the 21st Century is working on a car not driven by Jimmie Johnson for the first time since 2001.
And Knaus himself said it could happen.
“Look, I had 18 years working on that 48 car, so I guarantee I’m going to walk into the wrong transporter,” Knaus said Friday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “Tradin’ Paint.” “At some point, I’m probably going to key the radio and start to say ‘Jimmie,’ by accident. I may look at the 48 as it rolls down the front straightaway and get confused, but hell, I’m getting old, so I get confused anyhow. So, that’s just part of life.”
2019 sees Knaus instead shepherding the sophomore effort of fellow Hendrick Motorsports teammate William Byron in the No. 24 Chevrolet.
Meanwhile, Johnson and the No. 48 team will head to Speedweeks in Daytona with Kevin Meendering as its crew chief. After three years working with Elliott Sadler in Xfinity, Meendering gets his first shot in Cup with a seven-time champion near the end of his career.
It truly is a brave new world.
Old School Sonoma
A Cup Series road course will see a major change to its circuit this year.
No, Watkins Glen is not going to run “the Boot.” But Sonoma Raceway is bringing back “the Carousel.”
Almost lost in the hoopla of the inaugural race weekend on the Charlotte Roval last year was a press conference announcing the course alteration for Sonoma’s June 21-23 Cup race weekend.
The move, made to commemorate the track’s 50th anniversary, returns the track to its original 12-turn, 2.52-mile layout.
Cup races used “the Carousel” until 1998, but that was on a 1.99-mile layout. IndyCar also raced on “the Carousel.”