Crew chief Kenny Francis will lead the #5 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team when Kasey Kahne moves to Hendrick Motorsports next season. The team has confirmed that Francis will join the organization after the conclusion of the 2011 campaign. He has 11 Sprint Cup victories as a crew chief; all but one of them with Kahne at the wheel.
Team owner Rick Hendrick commented on the announcement, saying, “Our people have a lot of respect for Kenny and what he’s accomplished. We know the chemistry is already there with Kasey, and there’s no doubt Kenny will communicate very well with our folks. He’s a character guy who brings an awful lot to the table as a crew chief. When we look at ‘fit factor,’ it’s a great situation.”
Francis said, “Joining Hendrick Motorsports and continuing to work with Kasey next year is an opportunity I’m excited about. He’s a championship-caliber driver and good friend, and I’m looking forward to building on our relationship. Mr. Hendrick has built an impressive team and culture, and it’s going to be fun to be a part of that when the time comes.”
Francis will remain with Red Bull Racing as crewchief of Kahne’s #4 Toyota for the remainder of the season. Lance McGrew will finish out the 2011 season as crew chief for the #5 Chevrolet and driver Mark Martin. He will remain in a key role with Hendrick Motorsports, focusing on Research and Development and special projects, including the new Chevrolet Sprint Cup car scheduled to debut in 2013.
“Before the season started, I told Mr. Hendrick I was open to any role he wanted me to play moving forward,” said McGrew. “My goal has always been to contribute to the long-term success of this company however I can, period. Mr. Hendrick and everyone on the team is committed to winning races with Mark, making the Chase and finishing the year on a high note. We have a lot of racing left to do in 2011, and we’re going to give it everything we’ve got.”
Francis, who holds a mechanical engineering degree from the University of Florida, debuted as a Sprint Cup crew chief in 2003. The Jacksonville, Fla., native has worked with multiple drivers, including NASCAR champions Bill Elliott and Dale Jarrett.