NEW YORK (Dec. 8, 2000) Kyle Petty extended a tradition in stock-car racing's first family by winning the 41st annual TOSCO 76/NMPA Myers Brothers Award on Friday. The award, which goes each year to an individual or group voted by the National Motorsports Press Association to have made the greatest contribution to the sport, was given to Petty's grandfather, Lee, in 1959. Richard Petty, Lee's son and Kyle's father, is a three-time winner of the award, including in 1992 when he and his wife, Lynda, shared it.
"For our family, for us, this is big," said Kyle Petty, a winner of eight races, eight Bud Poles and more than $12 million in his NASCAR Winston Cup Series career.
Petty has spearheaded collection drives at race tracks for food banks in his home state of North Carolina, and he holds a charity motorcycle ride each spring.
One of the beneficiaries of this year's ride, the Hole in the Wall Gang Camps for chronically ill children, provided inspiration for a new project that Petty and his family unveiled in October. They plan to open Victory Junction Gang Camp on land near Level Cross, N.C. The camp, scheduled to open in 2004, will be the sixth such facility in the Hole in the Wall Gang Camps, founded by actor Paul Newman.
Petty and his family hope to establish the Victory Junction camp as a living tribute to Adam Petty, the fourth-generation driver who was killed May 12 in a crash at New Hampshire International Speedway.
Kyle Petty used his acceptance speech at Friday's Myers Brothers Breakfast to try to downplay his role in the various charitable activities that led to his selection for the award.
"I'm really not sure what my contribution was, to be totally honest with you," he said.
Petty said the real credit belongs to his late son, whom he said was responsible for rejuvenating his passion for racing.
"To see the sport again through Adam's eyes was phenomenal," said Petty, whose remarks prompted a standing ovation.
Petty's selection capped a lengthy list of awards announced at the breakfast.
Eight other awards were handed out Friday morning as well, including Bill Elliott's 10th-consecutive Most Popular Driver award. Elliott has now won the award, which is voted on by the fans via phone and for the first time ever this year, the Internet, an astounding 15 times.
"This is amazing from my standpoint, it's just amazing," Elliott said. "The fans support us drivers through thick and thin, that to me is more important that anything else in this deal."
Jeff Burton won the Exide "All Charged Up" Award for the fourth-consecutive year and the $50,000 check that comes with it. Burton sported the Exide colors for four years before the company opted to drop its primary sponsorship of the No. 99 Exide Batteries Ford late in NASCAR 2000.
"I guess we're going out in style aren't we," Burton said.
The winners of the Gatorade Frontrunner Award and Clevite Engine Builder of the Year awards weren't determined until the NAPA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Rusty Wallace barely held off Burton for the Gatorade Frontrunner Award, which awards $75,000 to the driver who led the most laps during the season.
Wallace wasn't done yet. He also won the Bud Pole Award and $100,000 from Budweiser, tying the largest check handed out Monday morning.
"I can remember back about three years ago when we were taking provisionals and almost missing some races because I was the kind of driver who blew off qualifying," Wallace said. "Then, we realized something had to change. Now, we're out there winning nine poles and winning races. I think the two go hand-in-hand."
Dale Earnhardt nabbed a $100,000 check, too. He won the Tosco 76 Motor Oil Award, which is given to the two highest-finishing drivers that use Tosco Motor Oil. Ward Burton the 10th-place finisher in NASCAR 2000, received a $50,000 check.
Mark Cronquist, head engine builder for Joe Gibbs Racing, won a close Clevite Engine Builder of the Year Award race over Larry Wallace of Penske Engines, but the contest was taken to the third level of the tie-breaking process. Cronquist won $77,000 for his efforts, while Wallace claimed a $20,000 check.
Jimmy Makar received $50,000 for the Plasti-Kote Quality Finish Award, and Dale Jarrett won the $50,000 DuPont Automotive Finishes Point Fund, which is given to the highest finishing driver that uses DuPont paint. -nascar.com-