Kenny Francis

Kenny Francis

Kenny Francis, like so many of the drivers and crew members within the NASCAR circle, Kenny began his racing career at the age of eight whilst driving go-karts.  He was born on the 1st of December 1969 in Jacksonville, Florida and it was here  that he conquered the local tracks, gaining a state championship before moving up to the regional and national circuits.  In the late 1980’s he studied for a mechanical engineering degree at the University of Florida and it was during this time he  started to compete in the late model stock races at the local race tracks before finding himself traveling further afield to tracks in places like Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and South Boston, Virginia.  He was very successful, gaining many wins and poles but eventually it all became too much and in 1996 he decided to leave the driving to others and concentrate on the mechanical side of the sport.

He started working as a crew member with a local team who competed in the NASCAR Busch Series, learning everything from fabrication to setting up the cars. This was the beginning of his professional career.  Wanting to further his career in NASCAR racing he moved to North Carolina in 1998 where he joined the crew team with Butch Mock Motorsports with driver, Rick Mast.  The following year he was offered a job with Robert Yates Racing, working with Dale Jarrett for the season.  Kenny was well set up; he gained invaluable experience and a sound working knowledge while the team led Dale Jarrett to four wins, twenty four Top 5’s and the 1999 NASCAR Winston Cup Series (now the Sprint Cup Series) championship.  Kenny stayed with the team the following year and in 2001 he was offered an amazing opportunity to become the team engineer for the newly formed race team for the #9 Dodge, driven by Bill Elliott and owned by champion crew chief-turned-car owner Ray Evernham.  It wasn’t long before Ray Evernham became aware of Kenny’s qualities, both in the garage and at the track and Ray promoted Kenny to crew chief/team director of the #9, driven by Jeremy Mayfield for the 2002 season.  Kenny followed through on the justification of the promotion by leading Jeremy Mayfield to winning and racing his way to an appearance in the inaugural Chase for the Sprint Cup in 2004 and repeated the performance in the 2005 season.

At the start of the 2006 season Ray decided to reorganise the teams giving Kenny the job of crew chief to Kasey Kahne and the #9 Dodge team.  This was a move that was to prove successful as Kenny and Kasey started the season with two consecutive fourth place finishes in California and Las Vegas and gained their first Cup victory at Atlanta Motor speedway on the 19th of March, 2006.  From there the pair went from strength to strength, together they had a series-high of six victories, twelve Top 5’s,  nineteen Top 10s, six poles and 744 laps led, earning a place in the Chase for the Sprint Cup and giving Kasey an eighth place finish in the final points standings.  Kenny became one of four crew chiefs/team directors to compete in every chase for the Nextel Cup since its inception in 2004 and he became the only one to do so with more than one driver, the other being Jeremy Mayfield.  Kenny won the WYPALL* Wipers Crew Chief of the Race Award four times and finished 2nd in the Crew Chief of the Year 2006 final standings. In 2007 Kenny and Kasey were winless and the team underwent a change when George Gillett became part-owner but came back again in 2008 with two victories, one was the Sprint All-Star Race and the other the Coca-Cola 600.  More changes came to the team in 2009 when Richard Petty Motorsports became partial owner, renaming the team to Richard Petty Motorsports.

Kenny and Kasey had their most successful season since 2006 when they recorded two wins, seven Top 5’s and the most lead-lap finishes (27) of Kasey’s career, taking them into the Chase  for the Sprint Cup for the second time, finishing 10th overall.  In 2010 they won the second Gatorade Duel race and Kasey decided, part way through the season to leave Richard Petty Motorsports to drive the ’83 Red Bull Toyota for the final five races of the season.  Kenny stayed at Richard Petty Motorsports until the end of the season before once again joining forces with Kasey in the Red Bull Racing team.  Kenny and Kasey have been together for six seasons in 2011 and are one of the longest standing driver-crew line-up in the Sprint Cup Series.  Working well together they have accrued ten victories, thirty Top 5’s and twelve poles. They have also gained non-points victories in the 2008 All-Star event and 2010 Duels at Daytona.  These results make them a fearsome team in the Sprint Cup Series, Florida Residence: Mooresville, North Carolina


15/04/2012 / by / in

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