Kevin Manion named Sam Hornish Jr.’s crew chief, replacing Drew Blickensderfer

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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.

 

NASCAR America: Pit crew members share their hidden talents

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What does a sky diver and Olympic-caliber swimmer have in common?

They make their living on NASCAR’s pit road, that’s what.

Check out two of this week’s pit crew all-star nominees, as seen on Thursday’s edition of NASCAR America.

NASCAR America: Xfinity drivers react to restrictor plates at Indy (video)

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On Thursday’s edition of NASCAR America, several of the stars of the NASCAR Xfinity Series tried to explain in three words what to expect with the use of restrictor plates in this Saturday’s Lilly Diabetes 250 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

See what they said and what they’re thinking about Saturday’s race in the video above.

NASCAR America: Bubba Wallace Jr.’s search for a ride continues (video)

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Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr.’s search for a new ride continues.

Wallace joined NASCAR America in-studio on Thursday and talked about his recent fill-in role at Richard Petty Motorsports during Aric Almirola‘s crash recovery, as well as his hope that a new ride will come around soon.

Wallace also weighed in on Alex Bowman being selected Thursday to replace the retiring Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 88 Chevrolet and what it means for the young generation of drivers.

Find out what Bubba had to say in the video above.

 

 

NASCAR America: What happens to Brad Keselowski now that 88 ride has been filled? (video)

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Amid all the news about Alex Bowman replacing Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 88 Team Hendrick Chevrolet next season, one thing was kind of overlooked.

Rumors had floated throughout the sport the last several weeks about Brad Keselowski being a possible candidate to replace Earnhardt, as well.

Those rumors were only bolstered more by the fact Keselowski has still not signed a contract extension with Team Penske. His current deal runs out at the end of the current Cup season.

NASCAR Talk’s Nate Ryan appeared on Thursday’s edition of NASCAR America and talked about the various ramifications of the Bowman deal. But Ryan also suggested that with Bowman now in place, will that potentially hasten Keselowski’s re-signing with Team Penske perhaps sooner than later now that the 88 ride is off the table?

“Whether Brad Keselowski was seriously weighing a move to the 88 or whether he was using it as leverage to get a better deal from Team Penske and Ford, this just makes it all the more likely that he will re-sign with Team Penske and stay in the No. 2 Ford next year,” Ryan said.

“It’s very likely that we will hear soon that Brad Keselowski is re-signing with Team Penske. That deal is very close.”

Ryan also discussed whether another driver whose name was mentioned as a potential replacement for Earnhardt, young William Byron, may also score a promotion to the Cup Series with Team Hendrick.

“I think Cup could still be in the cards for next year,” Ryan said of Byron. “Kasey Kahne is under contract in the No. 5 for Hendrick Motorsports for 2018, but he is having a very disappointing season.

“If Hendrick elected to make a change on that ride, it could depend on sponsorship. That ride doesn’t have much sponsorship announced yet for 2018 and William Byron could certainly be an option there.

“He brings some sponsorship from Liberty University, and he also has been sponsored in a few races with Axalta and they really like what he’s done. If he goes to Cup, they really want to be on his car.”