Spire Motorsports named Kevin “Bono” Manion as the interim crew chief for Ty Dillon, replacing Kevin Bellicourt.
Manion will serve as Dillon’s crew chief for 14 of the final 15 NASCAR Cup Series races. He will only miss the August Daytona race as he will call the Milwaukee race for Spire’s No. 7 Truck Series team.
Bellicourt has overseen the No. 77 team since the start of the 2021 season. However, the No. 77 hasn’t finished inside the top-20 on a non-drafting-dominant track yet in 2023.
“We’ve agonized watching and waiting for the results to mirror the effort Ty and the 77 team puts into their program. Expectations are a funny thing. They’re a blessing and a curse. For whatever reasons, those expectations aren’t being met,” said Jeff Dickerson, the co-owner of Spire Motorsports.
The No. 77 team also ranks last among the 34 teams with a primary full-time driver.
“We all know, Kevin Bellicourt included, what happens at this point of the season when we are, where we are, in the overall standings. Kevin has put in a lot of hard work and has been with us from the beginning of our journey. So this decision was difficult and not taken lightly,” Dickerson said.
Manion, who already worked for Spire in a variety of roles, including crew chief for their Truck Series team, has a strong resume.
In 2010, he won three Cup Series races with Jamie McMurray, including the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400. He also won with McMurray in 2013 and with Martin Truex Jr. en route to a playoff appearance in 2007.
“At the end of the day, we are what our results say we are. We need a spark to give this team every opportunity to progress and ultimately succeed. We’re incredibly fortunate to have someone as accomplished as Bono already in-house,” Dickerson said.
Manion has already been an asset to Spire. He led William Byron and Kyle Larson to the organization’s first two Truck Series wins at Martinsville last year and North Wilkesboro this year, respectively.
The organization recognizes the Cup Series effort will take more time, though.
We admit, it [the crew chief change] might not change the trajectory of the season for the No. 77 team. However, doing nothing, although tidier and more comfortable, especially with the relationships involved, clearly is not an option for us anymore and we are keen to see improvement. There is a lot of racing left in 2023 and it’s imperative that we’re raising the bar every week,” Dickerson said.
Manion’s other accomplishments include:
- Back-to-back Xfinity Series championships and 12 wins with Martin Truex Jr. in 2004 and 2005
- Back-to-back runner-up Truck Series points finishes with Zane Smith in 2020 and 2021