Ray Evernham wins prestigious Smokey Yunick Award

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Veteran crew chief, team owner and broadcaster Ray Evernham was named Thursday as winner of the annual Smokey Yunick Award at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Yunick, a legendary team owner and innovative mechanic, instituted the award in 1997 to recognize “an individual who rose from humble beginnings to make a major impact on the motorsports industry,” according to a release announcing Evernham as the winner.

“Ray Evernham literally redefined the role of a NASCAR crew chief during his time with Jeff Gordon and Hendrick Motorsports,” said Marcus Smith, president and general manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway. “Ray’s experience as a driver and his understanding of the sport’s rapidly advancing technology produced a unique dynamic, while his innovative work with the ‘Rainbow Warriors’ established a new standard for pit-road performance.

“Ray is a perfect match to the ideals upon which Smokey founded this award, and it is only appropriate that he will be recognized as we celebrate Jeff’s final race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where they enjoyed so much success.”

Evernham transitioned from a New Jersey-based modified driver to three-time Sprint Cup championship crew chief, earning 47 wins atop the pit box for Jeff Gordon.

Past winners have included Cotton Owens, Junior Johnson, Roger Penske and Rick Hendrick.

“To have your name mentioned in the same sentence as Smokey Yunick is very humbling and just to be considered is an honor,” Evernham said during a news conference at CMS.

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