Jeff Hammond to receive Smokey Yunick Award
Two-time NASCAR championship crew chief Jeff Hammond has been named winner of the Smokey Yunick Award, which has been presented annually since 1997 by Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Hammond will receive the award prior to Sunday’s Cup playoff race on CMS’s Roval.
The award honors Henry “Smokey” Yunick, one of the most legendary innovators and mechanics in NASCAR history.
“This is a total shock and honor,” Hammond said in a media release. “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, 63, began his lengthy career in NASCAR as a tire changer and jackman before becoming crew chief for Darrell Waltrip and team owner Junior Johnson in 1982. Over nearly the next two decades, Hammond earned 43 Cup wins and two Cup championships as a crew chief for Waltrip, Terry Labonte and Kurt Busch.
He has been a NASCAR personality on Fox Sports since 2001. He will receive the award at his favorite race track, where he won 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.”