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.