Position: Crew Chief
Kenny Francis returns in 2014 to crew chief the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolets driven by Kasey Kahne. In eight NASCAR Sprint Cup seasons together, Francis and Kahne have qualified four times for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Although today he is an established Cup crew chief, Francis originally had his mind set on being behind the wheel. He was 8 years old when he began his motor sports adventure racing go karts around his hometown of Jacksonville, Fla. His successes on the track led to a state championship and trips touring the regional and national go kart circuits. Francis continued his racing career through high school and beyond when he enrolled at the University of Florida. He raced weekends while studying for a degree in mechanical engineering.
During his college days, Francis graduated to the next level in his racing career and won races and poles while driving in local late model stock car events. But when balancing school, racing and a part-time job at a local power company became too difficult, Francis had to make a choice. Despite his success racing, he opted to complete his mechanical engineering degree in 1993. Three years later, he seized an opportunity to work for Bobby Jones Racing, a local NASCAR Busch Series team, where he handled everything from fabrication work to car set-up.
Two years later, Francis moved to the heart of the NASCAR community in North Carolina, where he worked for Butch Mock Motorsports and then Robert Yates Racing before accepting a unique opportunity in the industry.
In 2001, Francis joined the newly formed Evernham Motorsports to work as a team engineer for veteran driver Bill Elliott. Francis’ work ethic, skill and diligence earned him the crew chief and team director position for the organization’s No. 19 car. In that role, Francis helped driver Jeremy Mayfield clinch spots in the Chase in 2004 and 2005.
A personnel shuffle for 2006 paired Francis with Kahne and the No. 9 team. The result was instant success as both driver and crew chief achieved career-best seasons in their respective positions. With Francis on the pit box, Kahne posted a series-high six wins and earned a berth in the Chase, finishing eighth in the championship standings. Kahne also collected 12 top-five finishes, 19 top-10s and started from the pole six times—also a series best—during the 2006 season.
In their first year with Hendrick Motorsports, Francis and Kahne partnered to score two wins, 12 top-five finishes, 19 top-10s and four pole positions in 2012. Francis recorded his fifth Chase appearance as a crew chief and a career-best fourth-place finish in the Cup standings.
In 2013, Francis and Kahne earned their way into the Chase for the fourth time in their careers together. At the end of the season, they finished 12th in the championship standings on the strength of two wins, 11 top-five finishes and 14 top-10s.