Champion's Week, day five report

NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Champion's Week Presented by Sprint - Day 5 * NASCAR's Big Night: Awards ceremony caps off momentous week * Breakfast of champions: Myers Brothers breakfast honors special award winners NEW YORK (Dec. 2, 2005) --...

NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Champion's Week Presented by Sprint - Day 5

* NASCAR's Big Night: Awards ceremony caps off momentous week

* Breakfast of champions: Myers Brothers breakfast honors special award winners

NEW YORK (Dec. 2, 2005) -- After a long and eventful week in the nation's biggest city, "NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Champion's Week presented by Sprint" culminates tonight, with two of NASCAR's traditional year-end celebrations.

This morning, the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 drivers and their crew chiefs gathered for the National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) / Myers Brothers breakfast presented by Sunoco. The annual get-together, held in the Waldorf=Astoria Hotel's Starlight Room, was highlighted by several special award presentations.

NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion Tony Stewart (No. 20 The Home Depot Chevrolet) and sixth-place Ryan Newman (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge) took home the lion's share of the post-season prizes, with Stewart and his No. 20 team hauling in over $500,000 in special awards from MBNA, Clevite, WIX Filters, Sunoco, Goodyear Gatorback Belts, Goodyear Tires and Mechanix Wear.

Among Newman's accolades was his fourth consecutive annual Budweiser Pole Award, worth $100,000. Since debuting in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series in 2000, Newman has won 35 poles in 152 races -- sitting on the pole position for nearly 25 percent of his career. He won eight poles in 2005 and set two new track records.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet) was awarded the Chex Most Popular Driver Award for the fourth consecutive year.

The Myers Brothers breakfast is named in honor of the Billy and Bobby Myers, pioneers of NASCAR's early era whose family is still active in motorsports today. The third generation of the family's racers, Burt and Jason Myers, compete on the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour and represented the family on Friday morning, along with Karen and Danny "Chocolate" Myers.

Stewart posed for one more formal photo op, on Park Avenue outside the Waldorf=Astoria, before heading in for the season's final act: the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series awards ceremony. The gala event features musical performances by singers Gavin DeGraw, Toni Braxton and jazz pianist Eric Lewis. Comedian Jay Mohr also returns to the event for the second year.

In addition to honoring Tony Stewart and the rest of the top-10 drivers, the ceremony includes presentations for Raybestos Rookie of the Year Kyle Busch (No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet), NASCAR's Most Dramatic Moment Award (determined by fans through a vote on NASCAR.com), the annual Marketing Achievement Award and the Manufacturer's Championship Award, which went to Chevrolet for the 25th time since 1972.

25 years and counting ... Participation in Champion's Week and the awards ceremony is a privilege reserved for the top 10 drivers in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. This year's event marked NASCAR's 25th annual visit to New York, a tradition which began with Darrell Waltrip's 1981 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup title. Many of this year's honorees have played important roles in NASCAR's history in New York. Rusty Wallace (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge) has attended 17 of NASCAR's 25 New York banquets while Mark Martin (No. 6 Viagra Ford) has attended 14 times.

For Tony Stewart, this year's visit to New York was another chapter in his incredible racing career. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in the point standings since coming to the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series in 1999.

Ryan Newman, Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) and Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DeWALT Tools Ford) have enjoyed similar streaks in their NASCAR NEXTEL Cup careers, as each made their fourth straight appearances in New York since 2002. Kurt Busch (No. 97 IRWIN Industrial Tools Ford) and Jeremy Mayfield (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge) made their third visits, while Greg Biffle (No. 16 National Guard Ford) and Carl Edwards (No. 99 Office Depot Ford) were in town for the first time.

Celebrity sightings ... NASCAR's top drivers and entertainers Jay Mohr, Toni Braxton and Gavin DeGraw weren't the only celebrities to grace the red carpet at Friday night's event. Comedian and actor Will Ferrell, who will star in a NASCAR-themed comedy premiering in summer 2006, was also in attendance at the awards banquet.

New season not far away ... Not long after the awards ceremony is concluded and the teams and drivers have celebrated the holidays with their families, preparations begin for the 2006 season. Daytona International Speedway will host its first NASCAR Preseason test session Jan. 9-11.

Fast Facts

What: NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Awards Ceremony

Where: Grand Ballroom, The Waldorf=Astoria Hotel, New York City.

When: 7-10:30 p.m. (ET). Friday, Dec. 2.

TV: TNT, 9 p.m. (ET & PT).

Radio: MRN/XM Satellite.

Final NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10: 1. Tony Stewart 6,533. 2. Greg Biffle 6,498. 3. Carl Edwards 6,498. 4. Mark Martin 6,428. 5. Jimmie Johnson 6,406. 6. Ryan Newman 6,359. 7. Matt Kenseth 6,352. 8. Rusty Wallace 6,140. 9. Jeremy Mayfield 6,073. 10. Kurt Busch 5,974.

11th-place driver: Jeff Gordon.

Raybestos Rookie of the Year: Kyle Busch.

Special Guest: Comedian Jay Mohr.

Musical Entertainment: Singers Toni Braxton and Gavin DeGraw; Jazz pianist Eric Lewis.

-nascar-

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