Shock and genuine surprise.
That was Jeff Gordon’s emotional reaction to being named the 2012 recipient of the National Motorsports Press Association’s Myers Brothers Award during Thursday’s traditional NASCAR/NMPA Myers Brothers Award luncheon at the Encore in Las Vegas.
“Oh boy, this is a surprise. I’m having a hard time composing myself,” said Gordon, during the Champion’s Week event. “Couldn’t someone have warned me first?”
Named for NASCAR racing pioneers Billy and Bob Myers, the award recognizes individuals and groups which have provided outstanding contributions to the sport of stock car racing. Past recipients are a virtual 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.
Gordon’s accomplishments are two-fold: his on-track success, which includes four NASCAR Sprint Cup championships and 87 victories; and his charitable activities when not competing.
“Off the track, he has raised countless funds for charity through his foundation for pediatric cancer research,” said Burt Myers, grandson of Billy Myers, upon presenting the award with brother Jason Myers to Gordon. “He has traveled to Rwanda to aid with health care as well as partnering with an organization to put it on the side of his race car as a drive to end hunger.”
“I am deeply honored, proud of the work that I do on and off the track,” said Gordon. “This is fantastic. Thank you.”
NASCAR Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Office Brian France congratulated 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup champions Brad Keselowski and Roger Penske and the Miller Lite organization. France also commented on the youth movement in the NASCAR Nationwide and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and first-time events due to take place in both national series in 2013.
Also announced at Thursday’s luncheon was the NASCAR NMPA Most Popular Driver Award, given to Dale Earnhardt Jr. for the 10th consecutive year. This now ties him with Bill Elliott as the only other drivers to be presented the award 10 straight years. Elliott, however, remains the all-time leader with 16 overall.
(For a full list of the award winners, please see the bottom of this release.)
Earlier Wednesday, Chevrolet unveiled its next generation NASCAR Sprint Cup car – the new SS model – which, while tested extensively with Ford’s Fusion and Toyota’s Camry, had its configuration obscured in camouflage. The wraps officially came off today at the Wynn’s Encore Theater before hundreds of media members and industry and sanctioning body officials.
All photos from today’s Chevrolet unveiling plus additional Champion’s Week activities can be viewed and downloaded at www.nascarmedia.com
Four teams and their drivers displayed their next generation Chevrolets – the No. 1 Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates and Jamie McMurray; No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing and Tony Stewart; the No. 29 Richard Childress Racing and Kevin Harvick and the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports and Jimmie Johnson.
“We’ve both been focusing on a number of important initiatives to build a stronger connection with our fans by incorporating relevant technologies that we’re using on today’s high-performance Chevrolets, while also creating designs that help our fans make the link between what they see on the track, on the streets and in Chevy showrooms,” said Mark Reuss, president of General Motors North America, comparing the SS passenger car with its competition-prepared counterpart.
“The new SS won’t be mistaken for any other car on the track. It bears a striking resemblance to our production car, the 2014 SS and that will be in showrooms here next fall.”
“This thing looks amazing. It looks fantastic,” said Gordon.
NASCAR President Mike Helton thanked Chevrolet, as well as the sport’s other manufacturers, for their collaborative efforts to move NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition forward.
“The anticipation going into 2013 is building, it will build over the off season and it’ll be, we feel, one of the milestones that we’ll look back as we celebrate our history in the future; we’ll look back and see 2013 and the NASCAR Sprint Cup car as a very significant milestone for us,” said Helton.
Thousands of fans lined The Strip – Las Vegas Boulevard – as the top 12 drivers celebrated the conclusion of the 2012 season with the Fourth Annual Victory Lap. Engines rumbled and smoke from burnouts filled the air during the popular event which started and ended at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino.
Additional events Wednesday included the NASCAR After The Lap Sponsored by Ford and Coca-Cola, a “tell-all” driver-fan interaction that’s quickly become one of the most sought after off-track tickets. Day Three of Champion’s Week ended with the presentation of the “Stewie Awards,” three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart’s sometimes irreverent take on the 2012 season.
Here is the complete list of Thursday’s award winners from the NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Awards
Myers Brothers Award: Jeff Gordon
NASCAR NMPA Most Popular Driver Award: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Buddy Shuman Award: Ken Squier
NASCAR Marketing Achievement Award: Mars Inc.
3M Lap Leader Award: Jimmie Johnson
American Ethanol Green Flag Restart Award: Jimmie Johnson
Coors Light Pole Award: Jimmie Johnson
DIRECTV Crew Chief of the Year Award: Matt Puccia, crew chief for Greg Biffle No. 16
Freescale Wide Open Award: Matt Kenseth
Goodyear Tires Award (Champion): Brad Keselowski
MAHLE Clevite Engine Builder of the Year Award: Shane Parsnow, Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Team
Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew Award: Michael Waltrip Racing No. 56 Team
Mobil 1 Driver of the Year Award: Denny Hamlin
MOOG Steering & Suspension Problem Solver of the Year Award: Steve Addington, crew chief for Tony Stewart No. 14
Sunoco Diamond Performance Award (Champion): Brad Keselowski
Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award: Stephen Leicht
USG Improving the Finish Award: Tony Stewart
Champion Sponsor Award: Miller Lite
Champion Crew Chief: Paul Wolfe
Here is Friday’s final event – the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards – at a glance: