10/02 2018

Jimmy Fennig Honored With Smokey Yunick Award

Cover Photo by HHP/Tami Pope

BY:  Jacob Seelman

CONCORD, N.C. – Veteran NASCAR crew chief Jimmy Fennig was honored with Charlotte Motor Speedway’s famed Smokey Yunick Award prior to Sunday afternoon’s Bank of America ROVAL 400.

Presented annually since 1997 to honor legendary mechanic Henry “Smokey” Yunick, the award recognizes an individual who rose from humble beginnings to make a major impact on the motorsports industry.

Fennig, a longtime employee of Roush Fenway Racing who remains with owner Jack Roush’s team to this day, began his career as a short track mechanic and crew chief before he moved south into NASCAR country. He notably turned the wrenches for Mark Martin’s 1986 title-winning season in the old American Speed Ass’n before starting his second – and most well-known – stint at the Cup level.

A native of Milwaukee, Wis., Fennig won 40 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races as a crew chief with five different drivers. Fourteen of those came with Martin at the controls of the No. 6 RFR Ford.

Fennig also earned three NASCAR Xfinity Series wins with driver Matt Kenseth during the 2006 season.

In speaking of Sunday’s honor, Fennig ranked earning the Smokey Yunick Award alongside winning NASCAR’s premier event – the Daytona 500 – which he accomplished twice as a crew chief, first with Bobby Allison in 1988 and again in 2012 with Kenseth.

He also took time to pay a nod to Roush and all those at RFR who helped make his career possible.

“This kind of an award is something that I really appreciate, and there are a lot of people I have to thank that have been behind me on this journey to where I am now, especially Jack Roush,” Fennig said. “Without all of the people we couldn’t have done it. We put in a lot of hard work.

“To receive this award is very special,” continued Fennig. “The group of people that have already won it is staggering and I’m really flattered that I’m a part of it now.”

Fennig worked with numerous drivers over the course of his legendary career, and while he couldn’t point out a particular name that stood out, he said each driver he worked with had unique qualities.

“All of them were good,” Fennig said. ”Mark Martin was probably the best, a very demanding driver. All in all, all of the drivers, they were all a pleasure to work with. They all had different styles of driving.”

Fennig won the 2004 Cup Series championship with Kurt Busch, during the inaugural season of NASCAR’s playoffs, but he was emphatic that Sunday’s honor meant even more than that.

“There are few things that are quite like this,” noted Fennig. “This ranks right at the top, almost rewarding as winning the Daytona 500.”

Past recipients of the Smokey Yunick Award include Tony Eury Sr., Junior Johnson, Travis Carter, Ray Evernham and the late Jim Hunter.