Together again: ‘Bono’ Manion joins ol’ pal Tommy Baldwin
Kevin "Bono" Manion is the new crew chief for Michael Annett and the No. 7 Pilot Flying J Chevy at Tommy Baldwin Racing.
The 41-year-old Boylston, Mass.-native will oversee Annett’s rookie campaign in the Sprint Cup Series.
Manion’s reunion with Baldwin marks a two decade-long friendship that developed while the two worked on Modifieds in the Northeast. Before the pair moved to North Carolina in the fall of 1995, Baldwin promised Manion that one day he would own a Cup team.
As Manion says, the racers’ relationship has "come full circle."
"We moved here together; it’s only fitting that we should end up working together," Manion told FOXSports.com.
After working for Larry Hedrick and Harry Ranier, Manion followed his former Modified driver Steve Park to Dale Earnhardt Inc. in June of 1997. By 2003, he advanced to the crew chief ranks. The following year, he led Martin Truex Jr. to his first of two Nationwide Series titles. The pair graduated to the Cup series fulltime in 2006 and remained together through the merger of DEI and Ganassi Racing.
When Truex left Earnhardt Ganassi Racing after the 2009 season, Manion was assigned to Jamie McMurray’s effort in 2010. Together, Manion and McMurray won the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400 as well as the fall race at Charlotte. Despite winning at Talladega Superspeedway in October, Manion was relieved of his post at season’s end.
Although Manion’s name had been rumored as moving to several different race teams, he believes joining forces with Baldwin makes the most sense.
"Tommy is one of the younger car owners in NASCAR and he still has a lot of passion," Manion said."âWe’ve gone through some good times together and bad. But I’m excited to get back to work.
"I’m looking forward to a new opportunity to start. I’ve been hanging out there a lot. It’s good to stay humble. I’m going to drive a van to some of these races — and that will be good for me."