Chad Knaus and Donnie Allison thrived in their NASCAR careers, albeit from different vantage points.
Knaus – one of NASCAR’s greatest crew chiefs – won seven Cup Series championships with Jimmie Johnson, and claimed eight points-paying Cup victories at Charlotte Motor Speedway atop the pit box. Allison drove his way to three Cup Series races at Charlotte, and is known as the co-founder of racing’s famed “Alabama Gang.” The duo met with media prior to Sunday’s Bank of America ROVAL™ 400, celebrating their 2024 induction – along with Johnson – into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Among a slew of stories, the pair of legends recalled their favorite victories at Charlotte.
“One of the things that we always strove for was to be fastest in all the practice sessions, fastest in qualifying, and then to go win the race,” Knaus said of his time as a crew chief.
“That would be a perfect weekend. And, in (October of 2009), we did it. I kept all those time sheets from that weekend, which was really cool. Just had the No. 48 on top of every single NASCAR print off sheet, which was really special.”
Allison considers his 1976 victory in Charlotte’s 500-mile fall race as his favorite moment at the track. He piloted a No. 1 Hoss Ellington-owned Chevrolet to an emotional victory in only his second Cup Series start since the Coca-Cola 600, more than four months prior.
“I got fired from DiGard Racing in 1975, on the back of a boat in July,” Allison recalled. “And I came back home. … I didn’t have any money. I didn’t even own a wrench. I went to my brother, Bobby, and said, ‘I’ve gotta build a race car. I need to rent a place in your shop.’ He said, ‘OK, a hundred dollars a month.’
“I bought a car and I rebuilt it in a week. And I won all the races from there. … So, I won the race at Charlotte, and I walked up to (DiGard Racing team owner) Bill Gardner, and I punched him in the chest – pretty hard, I guess. And I said, ‘I’m the son of a, you know, who couldn’t drive, remember?’
“So that race, to me, is very, very important.”