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Stewart ‘Humbled’ By Receiving Media Award

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Friday, December 6 2013

Tony Stewart was named winner of the Myers Brothers Award for 2013. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Rusty Jarrett)

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Tony Stewart’s reaction to being named recipient of the 2013 NMPA Myers Brothers Award was emotional and heartfelt.

“This is crazy,” said Stewart, a three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion. “What an honor. It’s very humbling.”

Stewart was cited by the National Motor Sports Press Association (NMPA) during Thursday’s annual NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon at Wynn Las Vegas, part of Champions Week, for a variety of reasons – as a fierce competitor, championship team-owner and racetrack promoter.

“But he’s also helped others on many occasions, quietly and without recognition,” said Kenny Bruce, NMPA president. “The stories of our winner’s big heart have gotten around; much to his dismay, I’m sure. Trust me, they’re endless.”

The NMPA Myers Brothers Award is presented in the names of pioneer NASCAR competitors Billy and Bobby Myers. Past recipients are a Who’s-Who of the industry _ drivers, owners, track operators, sponsors and members of the media – and include nearly every current member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Additionally, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was named NMPA NASCAR Most Popular Driver in the Sprint Cup Series for a record 11th consecutive season. Junior matched Bill Elliott’s mark a year ago, although the 1988 Cup champion continues to hold the overall record of 16.

Stewart was honored for his body of work, and specifically for his role in taking NASCAR

Dale Earnhardt Jr. remains most popular. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Alan Marler)

back to its roots. He and his staff at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, produced the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series “Mudsummer Classic,” the sanctioning body’s first national points competition on a dirt surface in more than four decades.

“I’d always joked around that having a dirt race on the schedule would be really great,” Stewart said. However, Stewart preferred to credit others _specifically Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations, and Eldora Speedway manager Roger Slack – for the ultimate success of the “Mudsummer Classic.”

Stewart’s 2013 season was cut short by a broken leg suffered in a Sprint Car accident in early August. But he crossed the stage in Vegas without the aid of crutches to accept his award and should be ready to return to his No. 14 Chevrolet SS fielded by Stewart-Haas Racing in search of a fourth Cup championship when the 2014 season opens with February’s Daytona 500.

“It was hard sitting on the sidelines watching,” said “Smoke,” addressing 13 fellow-drivers who competed in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup™. “It’s given me a different perspective.”

Earnhardt said many things motivate a driver to compete at a high level. “None impacts us more than the fans,” said Junior, driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet SS fielded by Hendrick Motorsports. “This year we feel like we were giving them a lot to cheer for on the racetrack and paying them back for all the years they’ve voted for us to win this award.”

More than one million votes were tallied for 39 eligible drivers, with Junior collecting in excess of 700,000 votes. The final top-10 drivers, in order of votes received: Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne, Jeff Gordon, Stewart, Danica Patrick, Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards.

Junior easily out-polled HMS teammates Johnson, the six-time/reigning Sprint Cup champion, and Gordon, a four-time Cup champ, as well as Kahne and Cup rookie Patrick of Stewart-Haas Racing. Junior finished fifth overall after the 10-race Chase, 56 points behind Johnson but only one point behind fourth-place Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing.

Junior, who inherited a legion of fans from his father/seven-time Cup champion Dale Earnhardt, also took a moment to acknowledge “Awesome Bill” for his enduring popularity with NASCAR Nation. “I don’t really keep track of the stats or the score, but Bill was a great driver and ambassador for the sport,” Junior said. “He represents the sport really well to this day, as does his son Chase, who’s coming up and carrying on the family name. But I’ve always looked up to Bill as a driver, so it’s pretty neat.”

The NMPA Most Popular Driver Award has been presented every year since 1956. Initially determined by a poll among drivers taken at season’s end, it was later changed to allow members of the media to determine the winner. Today, race fans from all over the world are invited to cast ballots.

“We congratulate Dale Earnhardt Jr. for this record-breaking achievement,” Bruce said. “This is NASCAR fans opportunity to be heard during Champions Week in Las Vegas. On behalf of all those who voted, we thank you and are proud to continue to support the NMPA NASCAR Most Popular Driver Award.”

Brian Z. France, NASCAR chairman and CEO, pronounced the rollout of the Gen-6 Chevrolet SS, Ford Fusion and Toyota Camry successful. As such, the three manufacturers were named joint recipients of the 2013 Buddy Shuman Award for their role in creating race cars styled to better connect the sport with the pride of car ownership shared by millions of North American consumers.

The 2013 season also saw the emergences of future/diverse stars including Kyle Larson in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and Darrell Wallace Jr. in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Larson is the first Asian-American to win a Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award in one of NASCAR’s national series. And Wallace is the first African-American driver to win a NASCAR national series race in nearly 50 years.

Despite cooler than normal temperatures, thousands of fans lined The Strip – otherwise known as Las Vegas Boulevard – as the top-13 drivers celebrated the conclusion of the 2013 season with the fifth annual Victory Lap. Engines rumbled and smoke from burnouts filled the air during Thursday’s popular event.

Friday’s activities will be topped by the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards. The postseason black-tie event will be conducted at Wynn Las Vegas, where Johnson and team-owner Rick Hendrick will be crowned and the top-10 drivers in the final standings will be honored. The culmination of Champions Week, the awards program will feature the NASCAR Fan Reception, Red Carpet Walk, celebrity guests, music and entertainment. FOX Sports 2 will broadcast the event live from 9-12 p.m. (EST). In addition, www.NASCAR.com, Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90 will provide coverage.

A complete list of winners from the NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon:

_ NMPA Myers Brothers Award: Tony Stewart, Stewart-Haas Racing

_ NMPA NASCAR Most Popular Driver Award: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick Motorsports

_Buddy Shuman Award: Chevrolet Division of General Motors, Ford Motor Company and Toyota

_ NASCAR Marketing Achievement Award: Coca-Cola

_ 3M Lap Leader Award: Matt Kenseth, Joe Gibbs Racing

_American Ethanol Green Flag Restart Award: Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing

_ Coors Light Pole Award: Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing

_ Duralast Brakes “Brake in the Race” Award: Jimmie Johnson, Hendrick Motorsports

_ Freescale “Wide Open” Award: Matt Kenseth, Joe Gibbs Racing

_ Goodyear Tires Award (Champion): Jimmie Johnson, Hendrick Motorsports

_ MAHLE Clevite Engine Builder of the Year Award: Scott Fox, Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 team (Jimmie Johnson)

_ Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew Award: Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 team (Dale Earnhardt Jr.)

_Mobil 1 Driver of the Year Award: Matt Kenseth, Joe Gibbs Racing

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Friday, December 6 2013
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