The scenario of Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus being selected to the NASCAR Hall of Fame together was mostly discussed between the two back when they were still competing. And like most deep and meaningful conversations between friends, it was done after dark.

“Other than late-night after-dinner drink conversations, we haven’t had any conversations since it was announced on the ballot,” Knaus said. “But across our years, we definitely talked about wanting to get into the Hall of Fame, wanting to continue to do what’s next.”

On Wednesday afternoon, the scenario played out as expected for many within the NASCAR industry. Johnson and Knaus, in their first year on the ballot, were called to the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2024.

“It just hit when we were sitting in the back room a moment ago when we had finished the race in Le Mans, we had kind of stood back and said, what’s next?” Knaus said. “Surely didn’t think the Hall of Fame would be the next thing on the docket for us, but hopefully, this is just the next step in many, many experiences for the both of us.”

NASCAR announced the nominees last month. Johnson and Knaus were the headliners.

The 24 Hours of Le Mans also took place last month. Johnson was part of an All-Star driver rotation with Jenson Button and Mike Rockenfeller that completed the race in a modified Next Gen car in the Garage 56 category. Knaus was al so on the program fielded by NASCAR and Hendrick Motorsports.

“I can’t remember how the timelines have unfolded because so much has happened in our lives the last couple of months, but I feel like around Le Mans is when at least I realized the opportunity that was in front of us and kind of joked about it,” Johnson said. “But we didn’t put a ton into it. But I’d say in the last week or so, it’s really been top of mind and I’ve been trying to assure him that he would be a first ballot and we would go in together, and he’s like, ‘Man, you’re crazy.’

“Then we joked about being here and then everybody reading the ballots and it not working out, and how that wouldn’t be fun to experience, so I’m glad that it’s all played out and it’s so fitting for us to be both being going together.”

Johnson and Knaus were, by far, the standouts on the Modern Era ballot. Johnson is one of three drivers to have won seven Cup Series championships, but he was the first driver to win five consecutive. His 83 career victories are tied for sixth on the all-time wins list.

Knaus was the first crew chief to accomplish the feat of five consecutive championships. He stands behind only Dale Inman (eight) in overall championship titles.

Paired together for 17 years, Johnson and Knaus earned 81 victories. Among those were triumphs in the sport’s biggest races: the Daytona 500, four Coca-Cola 600s, four Brickyard 400 and two Southern 500s.

“I’m extremely honored to be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame and to have this opportunity with Chad,” Johnson said. “We accomplished the (81) wins, the seven championships and all that together, so to go in (together) is so fitting and very special and unique.

“When I knew my name was going on the ballot and found out Chad’s name was as well, this has been in the back of my mind, really hoping this opportunity would come about. I know I’m very, very proud of what we accomplished, and the fact that we get to enjoy this moment, relive all those memories, and go into the Hall together makes this all the more special.”