The 10: Crew Chiefs

Darrell Waltrip and Jeff Hammond celebrate in Victory Lane as they acknowledge his second Plasti-Kote Spray Paint award of 1989. (Photo by Racing Photo Archives/Getty Images)

There’€™s no tougher job in NASCAR than being a crew chief, one reason the annual turnover rate is about 40 percent.

Succeeding at a championship level as a NASCAR Sprint Cup crew chief requires the brain of engineer, the leadership of a drill sergeant, a coach’€™s ability to adjust midway through an event and the nerves of a riverboat gambler. Every race is a high-stakes game of feast or famine

Here are 10 crew chiefs from throughout NASCAR’s history who have done it right:

10. Jeff Hammond – A 43-time winner as a crew chief, Hammond was atop the pit box for two of Darrell Waltrip’™s three NASCAR Sprint Cup championships with team owner Junior Johnson.

9. Buddy Parrott -” With 49 victories, Parrot was a winning crew chief with some of NASCAR’s best drivers, including Richard Petty, Darrell Waltrip, Rusty Wallace and Jeff Burton. Won the Daytona 500 with Derrike Cope.

8. Tim Brewer -€” He won championships with Darrell Waltrip and Cale Yarborough and came within one lap of winning one with Bill Elliott in 1992. All told, Brewer posted an impressive 52 career victories.

7. Kirk Shelmerdine -€” In nine full seasons with the great Dale Earnhardt, Shelmerdine was the championship crew chief four times. Those are might impressive numbers any way you look at it.

6. Harry Hyde – The winner of 56 races in his career and the 1970 championship with Bobby Isaac, Hyde’™s relationship with Tim Richmond became the basis for the movie "Days of Thunder".€

5. Ray Evernham – The first modern-day crew chief to reinvent the position. Evernham led Jeff Gordon to three of his four Sprint Cup championships and his ability to innovate was one big reason NASCAR rules have tightened up so much.

4. Smokey Yunick -€” Brilliant, controversial, creative and fiercely independent, Yunick won championships with the fabulous Hudson Hornet and made the small-block Chevy a force to be reckoned with.

3. Leonard Wood – Not only was Wood the mechanical genius behind the phenomenal success of the Wood Brothers over half a century, he was the father of the modern high-speed pit stop.

2. Chad Knaus – Taking nothing away from Jimmie Johnson, Knaus has been the architect of five consecutive championships at a time when competition and pressure are both at an all-time high.  Clearly the best among active crew chiefs.

1. Dale Inman -€” There is no question about Inman’€™s credentials. He won eight championships as crew chief, seven with Richard Petty and one with Terry Labonte. When you look at the numbers, no one else is even close.