Kevin “Bono” Manion: Biography
Originally from Boylston, Mass., he gave up his full-time job as a plumber to make racing his career. At age 14, he was helping out Bobby Fuller in the NASCAR Winston Modified Series. Starting out just cleaning the car and doing general mechanic worked. He eventually worked his way up to tire changer. From 1988-’92, he helped Chris Woods with Late Models at Riverside Park in Agawam, Mass., as a crew chief.
In 1993, Bono became the crew chief and the only full-time employee at Sheba Racing in Hudson, Massachusetts. The team fielded a Modified car for Jeff Fuller and then Steve Park. In 1995, Tommy Baldwin came on as crew chief and Bono was his right hand man. The team and driver Steve Park missed winning the championship that year by a mere three points.
The following year, Bono relocated to North Carolina looking to further his racing career. He landed as a general mechanic for Larry Hedrick Motorsports with Ricky Craven as the driver and Tommy Baldwin as crew chief. During this time, Bono and Tommy not only worked together, but also shared a house. In 1997, Bono and Tommy welcomed a new roommate in driver Steve Park. The move coincided with the announcement that Steve Park would become the driver of the No. 3 ACDelco Nationwide Series entry, owned by Dale and Teresa Earnhardt. With the help of driver Steve Park, Bono was welcomed to the Dale Earnhardt Inc. family and he has been with the organization since.
Bono became the crew chief of the No. 1 Chevrolet in Cup before being hand-picked by Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Teresa Earnhardt to lead the newly formed Chance 2 Motorsports team into Nationwide Series competition.
Lead he did, as the team proceeded to accumulate two championships, 12 victories with Truex and three with Dale Earnhardt Junior. Bono also received Crew Chief of the Year honors. The Chance 2 team had their last official function at the 2005 NASCAR Nationwide Series awards ceremony when they brought home the championship trophy.
Now, for the fourth consecutive year, Crew Chief Kevin “Bono” Manion will lead the No. 1 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boat’s Team in the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The team comes out of the off-season with a new look, as Dale Earnhardt Inc. and Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates partnered to become the newly formed Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates.
Bono and the Bass Pro Shops/ Tracker Boats team finished 15th in the points for the 2008 season with three top-five finishes and 11 top-10s. While many Crew Chiefs would be pleased with those results the Boylston, Massachusetts native is looking to improve on those impressive statistics during the 2009 season.
The team made its mark in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2007 after claiming their first Coors Light Pole Award, seven top-five finishes, 14 top-10s and their first Sprint Cup Victory at Dover International Speedway. The win secured Bono and crew a place in the 2007 Chase for the Cup, where they eventually finished 11th in points.
Bass Pro Shops enters their sixth year of competition with Bono and the gang, with a relationship that goes much deeper than racing. To say that Kevin “Bono” Manion is an avid outdoorsman would be an understatement. Because of that, Bono truly values his long-standing relationship with the No. 1 retailer of hunting and fishing equipment and its founder, Johnny Morris.
This year Bono, driver Martin Truex Jr., and the Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boat team looks to continue their successful ways by leading the new Earnhardt Ganassi Racing organization into the Chase for the Sprint Cup.