Jimmy Fennig is a NASCAR crew chief for the #17 Crown Royal Black Ford that is driven by Matt Kenseth. In April 2011 Jimmy was named NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crew Chief of the Race after Matt won the Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Jimmy was praised for the way he and his team made constant adjustments to maintain Matt’s position throughout the race. Jimmy has many years of experience in the motor racing sport, born on the 15th of September 1953 he started racing on dirt and asphalt tracks in 1970 in the Midwestern Dirt and Asphalt Series in and around Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He first moved into the NASCAR Winston Cup Series (now the Sprint Cup Series) in 1984 when he worked for the DiGard Racing team. The following year, 1985, he joined Mark Martin as his crew chief in the American Speed Association Series The affinity they had showed throughout the two seasons that they worked together, accumulating nine victories, thirteen pole positions and the 1986 championship. Jimmy returned to the Winston Cup Series for the 1987 season working with Bobby Allison and Stavola Brothers Racing and over the next two years Bobby won two races including Bobby’s final victory, the 1988 Daytona 500.
1989 saw Jimmy working with fellow Wisconsin driver, Dick Trickle who, with Jimmy’s help won the 189 “Rookie of the Year” honours. In 1990 he joined the Bobby Alison Motorsports team and remained there for the next six years before joining Roush Racing in October 1996 to team up with Mark Martin once again. The chemistry showed once again when the pair had four victories in 1997, with twenty four Top 10’s and three poles and finished third in the final point standings. This year saw Jimmy accepting a share in the 1997 Busch Pole Award as well as the Plasti-Kote quality finish Award and the RCA Pit Strategy Award for helping to keep Mark Martin in front of the competition in his Valvoline Ford. Together Mark and Jimmy recorded a record seven victories in 1998, the most either had ever won in one year, they finished runners up in the final point standing and two victories and one pole in 1999, giving them finish of third in the final point standings.
Jimmy and Mark continued to work together, gaining three more victories and several pole positions until Jack Roush moved Jimmy in 2001 to the #97 team to join up with Kurt Busch. He took over as crew chief in 2002 to Kurt and Jimmy’s vast knowledge and experience helped Kurt to win at Bristol Motor Speedway before finishing the season with four wins, twelve Top 5’s, twenty one Top 10 finishes and finishing third in the final point standings. Their second year together produced another four wins (including a sweep at Bristol Motor Speedway), nine top-five and 14 top-10 finishes on the way to 11th place in the final championship standings. Their third season, 2004, together proved to be magic, it was the first year of the NASCAR Chase the cup and Jimmy earned his first Cup title by leading his driver to first in the standings following the inaugural Chase for the Nextel Cup, where together they beat nine of NASCAR’s best in the seasons’ final 10 Chase races. They recorded one victory and eight finishes of sixth-place or better during The Chase, three victories (including a third consecutive win at Bristol and a sweep of both races at Loudon), one pole, 10 top-10 and 21 top-10 finishes, 746 laps led during 21 events, and only three Did Not Finishes. Kurt dedicated his title to Jimmy and Jimmy was named the Sporting News crew chief of the year. Jimmy took over the role of crew chief for David Ragan and the #6 car in 2007 and remained there until the end of the 2009 season.
In 2010 he moved to head up a research and development team for Roush Racing but it wasn’t long before he was called to crew chief for Matt Kenseth, driving the #17 Ford Fusion for the remainder of the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Matt had had a long streak without winning so Jack Roush decided to shake up the team, bringing back Jimmy. “When we went through a number of crew chiefs trying to find a combination that would be best for Matt through the dark days when it seemed we couldn’t get it right, Jimmy was sort of burrowed into the R&D thing,” Roush said. “Jimmy has done it all,” said Roush. “He’s one of the guys I look to give me advice behind — and around and above — the engineers on what’s right and what’s wrong with our deal. He was having a good time. He was taking the race team without fans and without TV and without the sanctioning body. He was going out and running his program to find out how to make his race car fast. You don’t have the freedoms at the race track that you have in R&D, when you can organize your tests and all your components. But Jimmy stepped back up and jumped in front. And he’s done a better job than I think anybody could with Matt.” Jimmy is married to Connie and they have two children together, a daughter, Alexandria and a son, Joseph. The family currently reside in Charlotte, North Carolina.
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