Danica's 2015 Crew Chief Revealed
Daniel Knost will serve as crew chief for Danica Patrick in the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
A spokesperson for her Stewart-Haas Racing team confirmed to NASCAR.com on Monday afternoon that the interim tag had been removed from Knost's title.
Patrick, 32, completed her second full Sprint Cup season last year with three top-10 finishes and a final rank of 28th in the driver standings. She was paired with Tony Gibson for the bulk of her two seasons in the Stewart-Haas No. 10 Chevrolet until a late-season switch teamed her with Knost for the last three races of 2014.
As part of her offseason travel, Patrick served as grand marshal of the parade ahead of Sunday's GoDaddy Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. During a break in the college football festivities, Patrick told the website AL.com that the potential for success with Knost has her anxious for what the new season may hold.
"I think something new is both scary but also exciting. Until you go there you don't know how great it could be," Patrick told AL.com. "We worked together a little bit at the end of last season. I think that was a really good thing to do in preparation for 2015. Everybody at Stewart-Haas has been working very hard to make sure that every team is as good from top to bottom as possible, and we'll probably have some changes for next year within the team, but it's like I said, you never know what you can have until you dare to try something different. Daniel is a very smart guy and I'm excited to see what we can do."
Knost, 36, began his first year as a crew chief in NASCAR's premier series working with Kurt Busch on the team's No. 41 Chevrolet. The pairing paid dividends early on with a regular-season victory at Martinsville Speedway that clinched a Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoff berth for Busch, but the two struggled to find consistency in Busch's first year with the team. Busch netted six top-five finishes in 2014, but was among the first four drivers eliminated in the new Chase format.
Patrick showed signs of progress during Gibson's tenure with the No. 10 team as she twice bettered her career-bests during last season -- first with a seventh place at Kansas in May, then with a sixth-place run at Atlanta on Labor Day weekend. But consistency was again a precious commodity: Patrick finished on the lead lap in just 19 of the year's 36 races.
Hoping to jump-start both teams, Greg Zipadelli -- Stewart-Haas Racing's vice president of competition -- announced in October at Martinsville that for the year's final three races, Knost would pair with Patrick on an interim basis and that Gibson would work with Busch. Patrick closed out the season with finishes of 36th, 22nd and 18th; Busch posted results of eighth, seventh and 11th over the same span.
With Monday's confirmation by the team, Patrick will enter her third full season at stock-car racing's highest level paired with Knost's deep background in engineering. Gibson, her former crew chief, will continue to bring his old-school sensibilities to Busch's efforts.
"I think long-term it's the right thing," Zipadelli said last fall, after news of the switch was announced. "There might be a step back while they learn each other and they grow, but long-term -- a full year, two years from now -- I think their personalities between Daniel and Danica will work together much better, and I think at the same time, the same thing will happen on the 41 car."