Daytona 500 Wins Came More Than Two Decades Apart for Legendary Crew Chief Jimmy Fennig
Jack Roush launched his newly formed NASCAR operation on Feb. 14, 1988 and on the day Roush and driver Mark Martin finished their inaugural run in a back-up car in 41st position, young crew chief Jimmy Fennig led NASCAR Hall-of-Famer Bobby Allison to his final win in the famed Daytona 500.
Twenty-five years later Fennig led another future hall-of-fame candidate, Roush Fenway’s Matt Kenseth, to his second victory in the famed Daytona 500.
“It think that’s amazing,” said Kenseth of Fennig’s seemingly timeless ability. “I think it’s harder to do for a crew chief than a driver to keep his performance at that level for that long. There are so many different rules and so much more technology that is introduced. The cars change, the setups change, the theories change, the aerodynamics change. Jimmy just adapts to the changes and still wins.”
Fennig recalls both wins fondly, but just like a half a decade ago, his mind is completely focused on the next race.
“That one was a good one for sure,” said Fennig of the 1988 win with Allison. “From what I can remember about it - as it has been quite a while - I remember Bobby called in on the last stop and told us to bend that spoiler down to 10 degrees and we’ll go win this thing. That is what we did and away he went.”
“It is very fitting that Matt won the 300th victory that we have had since we started in 1988 and that Jimmy Fennig, who has been with us for most of the time, led him to that victory” said co-owner Jack Roush.
"Jimmy Fennig is one of the unsung heroes at Roush Fenway,” added Roush. “He doesn't do things that create a personal image away from the driver, or away from the sponsor, or away from the team. He's the trooper that's back there doing everything that he can every day.”
Fennig has led Roush Fenway Fords to Sprint Cup victory lane on 32 occasions during his esteemed career and in 2005 he helped guide the team to its second Sprint Cup Championship. Still, this week it has been back to work as usual for the valued leader.
“Well, we live with these race cars,” said Fennig. “Bobby and Matt’s wins were both enjoyable. But the big thing is, you have to make sure you are prepared for the next race; every time.
“It’s nice to celebrate something like that, but you don’t have time for a lot of that in this business,” added Fennig.