SONOMA, Calif. (AP) — Seven-time championship-winning crew chief Chad Knaus was oddly calm Friday even though his race notes for star driver Jimmie Johnson this weekend had been stolen from his rental car in San Francisco.
Knaus and his wife arrived in California on Wednesday night and headed to Fisherman’s Wharf for dinner. Knaus told The Associated Press they parked at a meter in a bustling area and were gone approximately 90 minutes.
When the couple returned, the right side passenger rear window of their SVU was smashed and their briefcases were gone. Their luggage was not stolen.
In one of the briefcases was a laptop with all of Knaus’ preparations and details for Sunday’s race. Hendrick Motorsports said the information is encrypted, and Knaus said other member of the No. 48 team had similar notes so the notes aren’t “gone.”
“Unless you are in motorsports, you aren’t going to care too much about the information,” he said. Knaus had photographs of the broken window, as well as the job he did of sealing the window with a garbage bag and tape.
Knaus, who is known to be meticulous in his attention to detail, said jokingly that having the notes stolen might be a boost for Johnson. In 15 career starts on the Sonoma road course, Johnson has just one victory. His average finish is 12th.
“It’s probably a good thing,” he said. “We haven’t run very well here over the last couple of years, so if I don’t have any notes to fall back on, we might come up with something new.’
He didn’t have the entire season of notes on the laptop, only his notes for Sunday’s race.
Knaus said there was also a significant amount of cash in the briefcases, as well as his wife’s art supplies and her laptop. He quipped that if the robbery was an inside job by another team, the culprits would be discovered: “If anybody in the garage just randomly takes up water colors, we’ll know who it was.”
He admitted it was frightening to think about all the personal information on his wife’s laptop — which did not have the same Hendrick security measures — that could now be breached. He also was able to find sympathy for the thief.
“I hope whoever took that stuff really needed it, and can do something with it,” Knaus said. “Take the money and do something good. Maybe they can get their act cleaned up.”