After the best finish of his debut season with Richard Petty Motorsports, Sam Hornish Jr. will have a new crew chief this weekend at Kansas Speedway.
Kevin “Bono” Manion will replace Drew Blickensderfer in leading the No. 9 Ford, which finished sixth in Sunday’s Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeewday.
It was the first top 10 this season for Hornish, who is 28th in points with a previous best showing of 12th in the season-opening Daytona 500. The three-time IndyCar Series champion returned to Sprint Cup full time after running the circuit with Team Penske from 2008-10.
In a release, RPM said the move was made “to further the chemistry of the team.”
Blickensderfer had been with RPM since 2013, serving as the crew chief for Marcos Ambrose the past two seasons. Prior to that, he had worked for Richard Childress Racing and Roush Fenway Racing, where he won twice with Matt Kenseth and once with David Ragan.
RPM said Blickensderfer had been offered another position within the organizaiton.
Manion moves to RPM from Tommy Baldwin Racing, where he had been working with Alex Bowman. TBR announced Manion will be replaced in his crew chief role by Tommy Baldwin.
Manion has been a crew chief in NASCAR’s premier series since 2006. He guided Martin Truex Jr. to the 2007 Chase for the Sprint Cup and won three times with Jamie McMurray in 2010, including the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400. Manion also won two Xfinity Series championships with Truex behind the wheel of a Dale Earnhardt Inc. car.
The racing weekend at Richmond International Raceway kicks off today.
The NASCAR Cup Series has one practice session and late afternoon qualifying, while the Xfinity Series has two practice sessions at the 0.75-mile track.
Keep an eye on Jimmie Johnson this weekend as he goes for his third consecutive NASCAR Cup win, having taken the checkered flag at Texas three weeks ago and Monday at Bristol.
Here’s how today’s action shapes up:
(All times are Eastern)
9 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. – Cup garage open
10:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. – Xfinity garage open
11:30 a.m. – 12:55 p.m. – Cup practice (Fox Sports 1, MRN)
1 – 1:55 p.m. – Xfinity practice (FS1)
3 – 3:55 p.m. – Final Xfinity practice (FS1)
4:45 p.m. – Cup qualifying; three rounds/multi-car (FS1, MRN)
Every NASCAR Cup driver had to come from somewhere, and for Brad Keselowski and Erik Jones, they came from Michigan.
Today’s edition of “50 States in 50 Shows” takes you to the Great Lake State.
The track that gets our attention is Dixie Motor Speedway in Birch Run. A track Jones cut his teeth on and where he set a record in 2010 by becoming the youngest driver to win an ASA Late Model race when he was 14.
Oh, and they also race school buses at the track.
Compared to the winning pace Joe Gibbs Racing kept the previous two seasons, it’s been a long time since the four-car team visited victory lane.
JGR last won 11 races ago in the November race at Texas Motor Speedway with Carl Edwards, who is not racing this year. The last win by a current JGR driver was the fall race at Richmond International Raceway, where Denny Hamlin triumphed.
Now, none of its drivers are in the top 10 in points.
RIR is where NASCAR heads this weekend for a race NASCAR America analyst Steve Letarte believes is “pivotal” for the team that’s won the last three races at the .75-mile track.
“We have to remember this is a new aerodynamic package for this year,” Letarte said. “There’s something about it that hasn’t really suited this JGR Toyotas. I don’t think they have found exactly the right combination, it seems Furniture Row (Racing) has. I look at Richmond, the speeds are a little bit down, aerodynamics won’t be as dominate. Even if they’re not dominate and they don’t win, they have to run better.”
Just two days after his retirement announcement, Dale Earnhardt came to the defense of his Hendrick Motorsports teammate and seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson on Twitter
After a fan attempted to criticize Johnson’s achievements by comparing them to fellow seven-time champions Dale Earnahrdt Sr., and Richard Petty, Dale Jr. said the system Johnson has competed in is twice as challenging as the eras of his father and Petty.
Watch the video to see Dale Jr. and other drivers discuss the differences between Johnson’s era and those of his predecessors.