NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion's Week -- Day 3
December 2, 2010
* Award Winners Announced At Annual NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon
* Fans Line The Strip For Victory Lap Return
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Dec. 2, 2010) -- NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion's Week culminates with Friday's awards ceremony that regales five-time champion Jimmie Johnson and the entire No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team.
But today was about the industry as a whole -- the sport's drivers, owners, teams, fans, media and sponsors.
At today's annual NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon held in the Bellagio Hotel and Casino, the overwhelming theme was the highly competitive nature of the 2010 season.
NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France opened the event with his thoughts on why this past season -- and this past Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup -- was so tight. He illustrated his point with a back story of a behind-the-scenes nature.
"I remember in January, having our press conference and talking about some of the things we were going to do," France said. "[Vice president of competition] Robin Pemberton stood up and said the now very infamous words, 'Boys, have at it.' I said to myself for a moment, 'Hold on, that's not in our script, that's not in our plan.' But you know what, in a good way he was right. That's exactly what this sport needed to transition and take another good step forward. The result was from the start of Speedweeks throughout the season, you saw the level of competition go up."
The proof was in the numbers, as the series saw record-highs in lead changes and leaders per race.
During the program, France also announced a NASCAR partnership with American Ethanol and ethanol advocacy group Growth Energy. As part of the association, a new contingency award known as the "American Ethanol Green Flag Restart Award" will be given throughout the season.
A number of postseason awards were given out during the luncheon, the last of which was the event's namesake: the NMPA Myers Brothers Award. This year the honor was given to former NASCAR Vice President of Corporate Communications Jim Hunter, who passed away in October at the age of 71. The emotional end to the ceremony included a tribute video and an acceptance by Hunter's son, Scott.
Said host Mike Joy, "Before Jim found such great success with NASCAR and ISC, he was a very talented writer. He was one of us. And he always will be."
Also announced today was the Hamburger Helper Most Popular Driver Award, given to Dale Earnhardt Jr. for the eighth consecutive year.
At the event's conclusion, the top 12 drivers were whisked away to do what comes naturally: Drive, though not exactly in the traditional sense. For the second consecutive year, thousands of fans lined The Strip to watch the top 12 take the popular "Victory Lap." Starting at Planet Hollywood and ending at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, the highlight once again were celebratory burnouts on the streets of Las Vegas by all 12 drivers. Prior to the Victory Lap, Johnson received the Key to the City of Las Vegas from Mayor Oscar Goodmanand Commissioner Tom Collins. Collins also presented a Proclamation recognizing Thursday Dec. 2, 2010 as Jimmie Johnson Day. A large crowd also enjoyed a Q&A session with the top 12 at the NASCAR After The Lap, Made Possible By Coca-Cola and Ford, held at the Hard Rock. Day 3 events ended with the presentation of the SIRIUS XM "Stewie Awards," hosted by Tony Stewart, honoring the best moments of the 2010 season. For the second-consecutive year, Las Vegas hosts the annual NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion's Week, culminating with Friday night's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Ceremony at Wynn Las Vegas.
SPEED, SIRIUS XM NASCAR Radio and MRN Radio will broadcast the event, live at 9 p.m. ET.
Here is the complete list of Thursday's award winners from the NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon:
* Buddy Shuman Award: Dr. Joseph Mattioli
* NASCAR Foundation's Track of the Year Award: Daytona International Speedway
* NASCAR Marketing Achievement Awards: Nationwide Insurance
* NASCAR Home Depot Humanitarian Award: Tony Stewart
* NMPA Myers Brothers Award: Jim Hunter
* Hamburger Helper Most Popular Driver Award: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
* Coors Light Pole Award: Jamie McMurray
* DirecTV Crew Chief of the Year Award: Gil Martin (crew chief for Kevin Harvick)
* Goodyear Gatorback Belts Fastest Lap Award: Jimmie Johnson
* Goodyear Tires Award: Jimmie Johnson
* Mahle Clevite Engine Builder of the Year Award: Earl Wheeler, Hendrick Motorsports (engine builder for Jimmie Johnson)
* Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew of the Year: No. 11, Joe Gibbs Racing
* Mobil 1 "Command Performance Driver of the Year" Award: Kurt Busch
* Moog Chassis Parts Problem Solver of the Year Award: Gil Martin (crew chief for Kevin Harvick)
* O'Reilly Auto Parts Position Improvement Award: Kevin Harvick
* Raybestos Rookie of the Year Award: Kevin Conway
* Sunoco Diamond Performance Award: Jimmie Johnson
* Tissot "Pit Road Precision" Award: No. 17, Roush Fenway Racing
* WIX Filters Lap Leader Award: Denny Hamlin
* Championship Sponsor Award: Lowe's
* Champion Crew Chief Award: Chad Knaus
Following is a complete rundown of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion's Week activities.
Friday, Dec. 3
2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Ceremony: The big show starts at 6 p.m. (9 p.m. ET), crowning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion driver and owner and honoring the other drivers who finished in the top 10 in the final series standings. The star-studded entertainment lineup for the ceremony includes country rockers Rascal Flatts, comedic host Frank Caliendo, country singer Martina McBride, singer Colbie Caillat and a performance from the Las Vegas show "Viva ELVIS by Cirque du Soleil." A Sam Bass custom designed Gibson Les Paul guitar being played by Rascal Flatts and signed by NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers and the band will be auctioned to support the NASCAR Foundation beginning Friday, Dec. 3 at www.NASCARFoundation.com.