Today was the day of Champions. NASCAR's Champions.
Eight 2007 NASCAR Champions joined Jimmie Johnson Thursday in New York City for photos, lunch, autographs, dinner, and to receive their awards as NASCAR's Champions.
NASCAR's 12th annual photo of national, developmental, and weekly series champions took place today at New York's Brooklyn Bridge Park with the 124- year-old bridge as the backdrop.
The morning photo session was one of the highlights of the day for the champions.
Their day also included a luncheon at Cipriani for NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Media.
During the luncheon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was awarded as the winner of the Chex Cereals Most Popular Driver Award for the fifth consecutive year. "I was pretty honored for my fans to back me up and win the award for me again this year," Earnhardt said. "It's a coveted award. Looking at past years, it's very hard to win. I never thought or anticipated that I would be winning this award. There are a lot of drivers who would be proud to have it and I'm proud to come hear again and pick it up."
In a bittersweet moment, Betty Jane France accepted the Myers Brothers Award to a standing ovation on behalf of her late husband and former NASCAR Chairman and CEO, Bill France Jr.
NASCAR Canadian Tire Series Champion Andrew Ranger of Quebec enjoyed meeting his fellow NASCAR Champions for the first time. "This is my first time to New York, and I'm really surprised at how big the city is," Ranger said. "NASCAR has given us a huge opportunity to come here and meet a lot of people. Normally, you win a championship, get a trophy and go home. To be here in the same room with Jimmie Johnson and Juan Pablo Montoya makes my first NASCAR championship even more special." Ranger competed in Champ Car prior to 2007.
Joe Gibbs developmental driver Joey Logano, 17, of Middletown, Conn., was crowned NASCAR's Grand National Division, Busch East Series champion. "It's pretty cool to see what NASCAR does with its champions in New York. There is so much more that goes on behind the scenes before the banquet that you don't see on television. It's been a great experience and I'm just trying to take it all in."
Steve Carlson, the 2007 NASCAR Whelen All American Series national champion, was the most veteran in attendance, this being his third national championship. "Without a touring series to race in, I thought my travel days to the New York banquet were done," Carlson said. "My weekly track (LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway) is five blocks from my house and it's NASCAR sanctioned. We started out to run part time there this season and then went full time because we started winning and won the national championship and made it back to the champions' event in New York. NASCAR really honors its champions, and it's pretty cool. It's big."
The evening came to an end for Johnson and the NASCAR Champions with a private dinner at the Waldorf=Astoria and then an invitation-only Sprint Party at New York's Marquee night club.
NASCAR Champions week comes to an end on Friday, with the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Awards Ceremony at the Waldorf=Astoria Grand Ballroom.