DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 12, 2000) Dale Earnhardt Jr., who won nearly $1 million in race winnings during the 1999 season, won almost $700,000 in point-fund contributions and post-season awards at the 1999 NASCAR Busch Series Grand National...
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 12, 2000) Dale Earnhardt Jr., who won nearly $1 million in race winnings during the 1999 season, won almost $700,000 in point-fund contributions and post-season awards at the 1999 NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division banquet last Friday at the Regent Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills, Calif. His overall winnings for the year were a series-record $1,680,598.80. With that amount, Earnhardt Jr. joined 1996 and 1997 champion Randy LaJoie, who finished 10th in the point championship in 1999, above the $3 million mark in career winnings.
Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 3 ACDelco Chevrolet, is only the fourth driver in NASCAR Busch Series history to win back-to-back titles. He will join his father, NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt, in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series and pursue the Raybestos Rookie of the Year Award in the NASCAR 2000 season.
"It was just a couple of years ago when they were talking to me about driving the No. 3 car, and I just couldn't wait to get the opportunity," said Earnhardt Jr. "I knew if I got the opportunity, I could make everybody real proud of me. Everyone in this sport should be proud of the NASCAR Busch Series, and the opportunity it presents in the world of auto racing."
Additionally, Earnhardt Jr. was named the NASCAR Winston Cup Scene Most Popular Driver for the NASCAR Busch Series and claimed several other awards including the Gatorade Front Runner Award, Goody's Extra Strength Award, MCI WorldCom Fast Pace Award and awards presented by Goodyear Tires and 76 Race Gasoline.
Both the runner-up and third-place finisher, Jeff Green and Matt Kenseth, respectively, tallied overall winnings above the $1 million mark. Green, who also won the Anheuser-Busch Bud Pole Award, finished with $1,093,241.90, while Kenseth posted $1,149,791.70 in season winnings.
"I think we all went in knowing that we had a shot at winning the championship, but we came up a little short," said Green. "I think 1999 was the most competitive season in NASCAR Busch Series history, and I know that the year 2000 will be even more competitive and exciting."
Tony Raines, who became the second-oldest rookie to claim a "freshman" championship, officially accepted the Raybestos Rookie of the Year Award.
"Our goals were to win the rookie of the year and to finish in the top-10 in points. We finished 11th in owner points, and that didn't put us too far from that goal," said Raines. "(Rookies) Hank Parker Jr. and Adam Petty had some strong runs this year, and I had a lot of fun racing with them."
Ron Hutter, engine builder for the No. 3 ACDelco Chevrolet, claimed his second straight Clevite Engine Builder of the Year Award after Earnhardt Jr.'s team earned more engine builder points than any other squad.
The 1999 NASCAR Busch Series Awards Banquet will be televised on espn2 at 12 p.m. ET on Sunday, Jan. 16.