By AMANDA VINCENT
Richard Petty Motorsports has hired Kevin “Bono” Manion to serve as crew chief for Sam Hornish Jr. on the No. 9 RPM Ford team in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, effective immediately, according to a release from the race team on Tuesday. Manion’s first race atop the No. 9 pit box will be Saturday night’s SpongeBob SquarePants 400 at Kansas Speedway near Kansas City, Kan.
“We began the season with changes to the No. 9 race team, most notably with the addition of Sam as our driver,” Richard Petty Motorsports Director of Competition Sammy Johns. “We are now looking to give Sam all the tools he needs to be successful. We feel that Kevin will bring in some new ideas to help better our performance. We welcome him to the Petty family.”
Manion replaces Drew Blickensderfer as crew chief of the No. 9. According to the RPM release from Tuesday, Blickensderfer has been offered another position within the organization. Also, various reports on Tuesday reported that Blickensderfer hadn’t yet decided whether or not he would accept the position.
Manion has previously worked with drivers including Martin Truex Jr., Jamie McMurray and, most recently, Alex Bowman. He worked with Truex in both the Busch (now-Xfinity) Series and the Sprint Cup Series. At the Busch/Xfinity level, Manion guided Truex to two-consecutive series championships in 2004 and 2005. Manion also has wins in the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400, two of NASCAR’s biggest races, with McMurray as driver. Both of those wins came in 2010.
Manion left Tommy Baldwin Racing and driver Bowman for his position at RPM. TBR also sent out a release on Tuesday, announcing that car owner Tommy Baldwin would become Bowman’s crew chief on the Tommy Baldwin Racing No. 7 Chevrolet team.
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