GREENVILLE, S.C. – The Greenville Swamp Rabbits, proud ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings, announced today the list of special guests participating in the Crew Chief Meet & Greet as part of the Crew Chief Package for NASCAR Night on Saturday, January 20th, against the Jacksonville Icemen.
Doug Duchardt, President of Spire Motorsports, headlines the event that features Luke Lambert, Crew Chief of the Spire Motorsports No. 77 Chevrolet Camaro in the NASCAR Cup Series (NCS), Kevin “Bono” Manion, Crew Chief of Spire Motorsports NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series (NCTS) program, and Chad Walter, former Crew Chief of the No. 24 GMS Racing Chevrolet Silverado in the NCTS for NASCAR Night attendee, Rajah Caruth.
Duchardt joined Spire Motorsports as its President on December 4, 2023, after six years with Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR) as its Chief Operating Officer, and most recently as an executive consultant. With Spire Motorsports, he will oversee the entire organization with respect to competition, personnel, and business operations.
“I’ve had NASCAR Night circled on my calendar since I joined Spire Motorsports, so I’m definitely looking forward to an exciting night in Greenville and seeing my first Swamp Rabbits game,” saids Duchardt. “Greenville has one of the most devoted NASCAR fanbases anywhere in the country and it’s going to be a lot fun to see that crossover between the racing crowd and Swamp Rabbits fans. I’m looking forward to spending time at Bon Secours Wellness Arena, making new friends and doing a little bench racing. It’s going to be a great night.”
In a career spanning 27 seasons, Duchardt is one of the sport’s most accomplished and well-respected individuals. Over the course of his tenure at CGR, he oversaw four IndyCar Championships and played a key role in sportscar victories at the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway and 12 Hours of Sebring. Hailing from Morton, Ill. Duchardt spent 12 years with Hendrick Motorsports (MHS) – NASCAR’s standard bearer – as Vice President of Development, and later transitioned to Executive Vice President and General Manager, directing all phases of competition. With HMS, Duchardt supervised seven NCS Championships, including a one-two-three title finish with Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin, and Jeff Gordon in 2009. Over the course of his tenure, HMS-built engines won nine of 12 championships.
Luke Lambert joined Spire Motorsports on December 6, 2023, as the crew chief of the No. 77 Chevrolet Camaro, piloted this upcoming season by Carson Hocevar in his first full-time NCS campaign. He spent last season guiding Legacy Motor Club’s No. 42 NCS entry, linking up with Hocevar in eight of the final 10 races of the season. Lambert made his mark in the NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) with Noah Gragson and the JR Motorsports’ No. 9 team, leading them to three poles, eight wins, 21 top-five and 26 top-10 finishes in the 2022 campaign. A veteran crew chief, Lambert has directed competition efforts for some of the sport’s most notable names, particularly Ryan Newman, who he led to a Championship 4 appearance and subsequent runner-up finish in the NCS championship points standings in 2014.
Kevin “Bono” Manion has worked with Spire Motorsports since 2021, serving as crew chief for the team’s expansion into the NCTS. In 2023, he served as the interim crew chief for the Spire Motorsports No. 77 Chevrolet Camaro, leading driver Ty Dillon for 14 of the final 15 races in the campaign. Bono has been a staple atop pit boxes since 2002 and scored victories in all three levels of NASCAR’s competitions, including NCTS checkered flags for Spire Motorsports with William Byron (Martinsville, 2022) and Kyle Larson (North Wilkesboro, 2023). Most notably, the Boylston, Mass., native guided Martin Truex Jr to back-to-back NXS Championships in 2004 and 2005.
Walter, a crew chief since 2005, spent 2023 guiding the GMS Racing No. 24 Chevrolet Silverado NCTS entry of Rajah Caruth, one of 14 drivers attending NASCAR Night this year. Atop the pit box of the 21-year-old driver last season, Walter guided Caruth to four top-10 finishes in 23 races.
During the game on Saturday, January 20th, NASCAR takes center stage as NASCAR drivers will be introduced for the opening puck drop and feature as part of in-game events and contests. The Swamp Rabbits will wear special NASCAR Night fire suit jerseys that will be auctioned to the public in a live postgame auction. Proceeds from the auction will benefit Habitat for Humanity of Greenville County.
About Spire Motorsports … Spire Motorsports is a NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series race team co-owned by long-time NASCAR industry executives Jeff Dickerson and Thaddeus “T.J.” Puchyr. In 2024, Spire Motorsports will campaign the Nos. 7, 71 and 77 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1s in the NASCAR Cup Series with drivers Corey LaJoie, Zane Smith and Carson Hocevar, respectively.
Spire Motorsports earned its inaugural NASCAR Cup Series victory in its first full season of competition when Justin Haley took the checkered flag in the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 7, 2019. Less than three years later, William Byron drove Spire Motorsports’ No. 7 Chevrolet Silverado to its inaugural NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series win on April 7, 2022, at Martinsville Speedway. The team’s most recent win came on May 20, 2023, when Kyle Larson took the checkered flag in the Tyson 250 at North Wilkesboro Speedway.
About the Greenville Swamp Rabbits …
Acquired by Spire Sports + Entertainment (SS+E) in 2020, the Greenville Swamp Rabbits hockey team have been providing family friendly, live entertainment at Bon Secours Wellness Arena since 2010. Formerly the Greenville Road Warriors, the Swamp Rabbits are the highest-level professional minor league franchise in South Carolina. The Swamp Rabbits are the proud ECHL affiliate of the NHL's LA Kings and the AHL's Ontario Reign. Greenville is a member of the ECHL, Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League.