This weekend at Daytona, crew chief Kevin "Bono" Manion will take on an additional role when he's not guiding Jamie McMurray and his team from the No. 1 Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Chevy's pit box.
Manion will join Todd Berrier, crew chief for the No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevy and Kevin Harvick, in supporting the "Gout Pit Stop," an awareness campaign created by the Men's Health Network and Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America, Inc., targeting males who may not be willing to share their experiences with the arthritic disease that affects millions of Americans each year.
As someone who has dealt with gout for over a decade, Manion hopes other men won't be embarrassed regarding their issues with it.
"It's been an ongoing problem for about 10 years for myself," Manion said. "It's flared up, and being a tough guy and stubborn, I thought I might have stubbed my toe or something. It kind of went away and then it flared up again, so I still didn't have any idea what it was until five or six years ago when I finally had so much excruciating pain that I had to go see a doctor."
Manion and Berrier will make occasional appearances during at-track events, which will also occur at Atlanta and Chicagoland this September, Charlotte in October and Texas in November. "Gout Pit Stop" also has a website at www.goutpitstop.com.
"It was a no-brainer for me that I wanted to get involved and help out," Manion said. "(I) want to let millions of Americans know it's OK to say 'I have it.' It's okay to go to a doctor and get educated on it."
As the on-track side of things, Manion and the No. 1 team will return to Daytona this weekend in hopes of earning their first restrictor-plate win since the 2010 Daytona 500.
Manion noted that while McMurray's win last season featured larger packs and didn't stress the importance of drafting partners, the new Daytona philosophy forces teammates to work together in order for the "two-car tandem" draft to take effect.
"Before, you had multiple partners," Manion said. "Now, you tend to just hook up with one guy. You still want to pit together. If you do not have a teammate, you'll fall back and get lapped very quick. With 43 cars starting the race, there's one man out. That's one aspect that's changed."
According to Manion, the light tire wear that occurred back in February—leading to a vast amount of two-tire stops throughout the "Great American Race"—will likely occur once again this weekend, even though the track surface may wear a bit.
"Tires will be fine," Manion said. "The track surface is still perfect, and it might lose a bit of grip from the first race to the second race, but Goodyear has put out a great tire and I don't expect any tires to fail."
With exactly 10 races left before the Chase for the Sprint Cup, Manion and the No. 1 crew are in desperation mode. McMurray is currently 27th in points, 55 points behind 20th-place David Ragan and 120 behind 10th-place Ryan Newman.
Manion noted it's now essentially a "win or go broke" scenario.
"Our pit calls are different, and our race strategies are different for sure," Manion said. "It looks like it's going to take two wins, probably, to get into this Chase for the two (wild-card) spots. We've been conservative in the past, but our team needs to win. Whatever it takes to win the race, whether it takes two tires, four tires or no tires."