Myers Brothers Awards filled with honors, laughs – Nascar
LAS VEGAS — A packed and enthusiastic crowd filled the Encore ballroom at the Wynn Las Vegas for Thursday’s annual NMPA Myers Brothers luncheon. Darlington Raceway earned the big namesake award, and NASCAR’s full slate of Chase drivers and other dignitaries enjoyed Day 4 of the sport’s championship celebration week.
NASCAR Chairman Brian France opened the event by recognizing the now-retired Jeff Gordon as a “role model for other drivers” then praised the sport’s accomplishments over another news-making season.
Calling it a “pivot” from usual remarks, France said he had “never been more excited about the future.” He praised the sport not only for its keen technological advances like the Air Titan track dryers used all too often this season, but also noting the sport has raised the level of competition. “We will have an exceptional future,” he vowed.
After the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award nominees were introduced, and videos were shown about the four’s charitable commitments, the rest of the day centered on racing awards.
Brett Moffitt accepted the Sprint Cup Series Rookie of the Year award from Sunoco, humbly thanking all the team owners this year who put him in Cup cars (his best finish was eighth at Atlanta) this year.
WATCH: Moffitt accepts his award
Four-time champion Gordon was mentioned throughout the luncheon with various speakers honoring his impact on the sport. Chevrolet executive Jim Campbell presented a “Lifetime Achievement Award” to the driver, and Chevrolet donated a 2016 Corvette ZO6 to be used as a fundraiser in the Jeff Gordon Foundation.
The NMPA Myers Brothers Award was presented to Darlington Raceway as it was recognized for organizing a fun and extremely popular throwback theme at the track’s annual Fall 500-miler this year. The Southern 500 returned to its traditional Labor Day date this year.
The 2014 champion, and this year’s runner-up, Kevin Harvick, won an afternoon high of five awards, including the Mobil 1 “Driver of the Year Award” for his 2,294 laps led and season-best 23 top-five finishes.
There was plenty of humor on the stage to go along with the moving tributes. For example, Matt Kenseth, who received the Fastest Lap Award remarked that he was “really looking forward to running full-time next year” — taking a little jab at his two-race NASCAR suspension for wrecking Joey Logano during the Chase for the Championship at Martinsville Speedway.
This year’s season champion Kyle Busch was presented with a bottle of “Burnt Rubber” cologne — a nod to the commercial starring Jimmie Johnson. After accepting the gold car from Goodyear, Busch joked that Johnson could run a heat race with all the gold cars (six) he’s received.
Busch’s crew chief Adam Stevens, who received the top crew chief award from Champion, joked that he was also an “unlicensed psychologist and weatherman” in his work leading Busch’s team, referencing the weather posing numerous challenges throughout the 2015 season.
Denny Hamlin was the only one of the 16 Chase drivers not in attendance. Instead, he is recovering from No. 30 surgery to repair his right knee. He tore his anterior cruciate ligament while playing recreational basketball back in September.
Camping World Truck Series champion Erik Jones filled in for Hamlin Thursday afternoon when the Chase drivers drove down the Las Vegas Strip doing burnouts for thousands who lined the city’s famous streets.
Here is the complete list of Thursday’s award winners from the NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon:
· NMPA Myers Brothers Award: Darlington Raceway
· Buddy Shuman Award: Clay Campbell, President Martinsville Speedway
· NASCAR Marketing Achievement Award: Sunoco
· Chevrolet Lifetime Achievement Award: Jeff Gordon
· 3M Lap Leader Award: Kevin Harvick
· American Ethanol Green Flag Restart Award: Kevin Harvick
· Coors Light Pole Award: Joey Logano
· Duralast Brakes “Brake in the Race” Award: Kevin Harvick
· Freescale “Wide Open” Award: Kevin Harvick
· Goodyear Tires Award: Kyle Busch
· Ingersoll Rand Power Move Award: No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet team
· MAHLE Clevite Engine Builder of the Year Award: Sam Vernatter, Hendrick Engines No. 4 team
· Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew Award: Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 team
· Mobil 1 Driver of the Year Award: Kyle Busch
· MOOG Steering & Suspension Problem Solver of the Year Award: Greg Ives, crew chief No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports team
· Sherwin-Williams Fastest Lap Award: Matt Kenseth
· Sunoco Diamond Performance Award: Kyle Busch
· Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award: Brett Moffitt
· Champion Sponsor Award: Mars, Inc.
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