Legendary NASCAR Crew Chief Jeff Hammond Presented with Smokey Yunick Award
Legendary NASCAR crew chief and Charlotte, North Carolina, native Jeff Hammond will be presented with Charlotte Motor Speedway's prestigious Smokey Yunick Award prior to Sunday's Bank of America ROVAL™ 400.
Presented annually since 1997 to honor famed mechanic Henry "Smokey" Yunick, the award recognizes an individual who rose from humble beginnings to make a major impact on the motorsports industry.
Known to many fans as a gregarious NASCAR on FOX personality, Hammond's legacy as a crew chief can scarcely be matched. The 63-year-old worked as a tire changer and jackman before he took the reins as crew chief for Darrell Waltrip at Junior Johnson's team in 1982. In a star-studded career that lasted nearly 20 years, Hammond amassed 43 NASCAR Cup Series wins and two championships while atop the pit box for superstar drivers including Waltrip, Terry Labonte and Kurt Busch.
"This is a total shock and honor," Hammond said. "Smokey Yunick was a hero of mine. I always admired him and could never believe all of the accomplishments he had throughout his career and how he helped grow the sport. To be given this award and see people before me who've won it, like Ray Evernham, Dale Inman and Waddell Wilson - all friends of mine - it means a lot. This is right up there with winning championships in my book."
Hammond's cars won three points-paying races at Charlotte Motor Speedway, including back-to-back Coca-Cola 600s in 1988 and 1989 with Waltrip.
"Charlotte is my home race track," Hammond said. "I grew up three or four miles away from the speedway. I remember hearing the cars racing before I was old enough to go to a race. I first came in the pits here and I bought my first major race ticket here. To watch this speedway grow from its inception to what it is now is unbelievable. Bruton and Marcus Smith have always been trendsetters, much like Smokey Yunick."