NASCAR: Dale Earnhardt Jr. wins Myers Brothers Award for contributions to stock car racing (VIDEO)

1 Comment

It’s not as glamorous as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards that will take place tomorrow, but the NMPA Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon – which took place earlier today in Las Vegas – is still an important function for the stock car racing industry.

At the top of accolades doled out in this particular ceremony is the Myers Brothers Award, which has been annually presented since 1958 to those who have made outstanding contributions to the sport. The winners range from drivers and executives to tracks, sponsors, and even television networks.

This year, the special honor was given to Dale Earnhardt Jr., who won the 2014 Daytona 500 en route to a four-win season in Sprint Cup and also was this year’s NASCAR Nationwide Series championship team owner following Chase Elliott’s title win for JR Motorsports.

His impact doesn’t end there, however. JRM has also fielded successful squads in regional short-track racing, and off the track, he is one of the most-requested professional athletes for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Additionally, his own foundation raised more than $900,000 this year for 70 different charities.

Altogether, Earnhardt’s definitely a worthy recipient.

“The truth is I’m obviously extremely humbled by this award, but I feel like I share it on so many levels—my sister Kelley, along with everyone at JR Motorsports is as deserving as this as anyone,” Earnhardt said in Vegas. “I’ve got a lot of passions with NASCAR, but I wouldn’t know how to make them realities without all those folks.

“They’re why we just completed our 14th season building race cars on some level or another. And they’re also why the Dale Jr. Foundation exists. I’m just as proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish there as anything we’ve ever done on the racetrack.”

Earnhardt went on to thank the Myers family, the National Motorsports Press Association, NASCAR and “the people who support the lower tiers of racing” before saluting his fans.

“You are what makes NASCAR what it is,” he said. “Your contributions to the sport are endless. You do it with your time, your energy, your money, your livelihoods, and all you ask in return is that we go out there and give our very best. What an incredible honor this is.”

This marks the third year in a row that a driver has won the Myers Brothers Award. Jeff Gordon won it in 2012, followed by Tony Stewart in 2013.

Earnhardt’s father, seven-time Sprint Cup champion Dale Sr., was posthumously honored with the award in 2001 after his death earlier that year at Daytona.

Other award winners today include the following:

· Buddy Shuman Award: Bill Joyner, Sunoco’s Manager of Automotive Events

· NASCAR Marketing Achievement Award: Toyota

· 3M Lap Leader Award: Kevin Harvick

· American Ethanol Green Flag Restart Award: Kevin Harvick

· Coors Light Pole Award: Brad Keselowski

· Duralast Brakes “Brake in the Race” Award: Kevin Harvick

· Freescale “Wide Open” Award: Kevin Harvick

· Goodyear Tires Award: Kevin Harvick

· MAHLE Clevite Engine Builder of the Year Award: Billy Davis, Hendrick Engines No. 4 team

· Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew Award: Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 team

· Mobil 1 Driver of the Year Award: Kevin Harvick

· MOOG Steering & Suspension Problem Solver of the Year Award: Luke Lambert, crew chief No. 31 Richard Childress Racing team

· Sherwin-Williams Fastest Lap Award: Matt Kenseth

· Sunoco Diamond Performance Award: Kevin Harvick

· Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award: Kyle Larson

· Champion Sponsor Award: Budweiser

· Champion Crew Chief: Rodney Childers

New schedule has Josef Newgarden seeing double (points) again in 2020

Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Two-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden of Team Penske believes the latest revised schedule for 2020 will change his approach to the season.

The new schedule has the defending IndyCar champion looking at ways to double the possibilities for a second consecutive championship.

“When I look at the whole schedule they released now, I look at it as double-points as a whole in all of them,” Newgarden told NBCSports.com Monday. “Iowa is double points on a short oval. There are double points at the Indy GP because there are two races and a road course. Then double points at Laguna, which is a different road course than IMS. And there is double points in the Indianapolis 500.”

IndyCar announced to team owners two weeks ago that the season finale (once scheduled for Laguna Seca and now at St. Petersburg) will no longer be a double-points event. But Monday’s schedule revision essentially adds three double points-style races to the Indy 500’s double-points format, Newgarden said.

“Those are four events where you have to be quite strong,” Newgarden said. “They are all very different from each other. Each one is critical to get right. Iowa has a chance to be the most difficult. From a physical standpoint, it’s already a physical track for one race. To double it up on one weekend will be quite the toll for the drivers.

“It will be a very big test physically to see who will get that weekend right. You can bag a lot of points because of it.”

Just 12 days after the first schedule revision, IndyCar officials announced another revised schedule Monday because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The new schedule features doubleheader weekends at Iowa Speedway in July and Laguna Seca in September. There is an additional race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course Oct. 3.

That race will be known as the IndyCar Harvest Grand Prix. It will be the second time in Indianapolis Motor Speedway history that an IndyCar race is held in the fall. The only other time was the Harvest Auto Racing Classic, a series of three races won by Johnny Aitken on Sept. 9, 1916.

The Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix scheduled for May 30-31 will be dropped from the 2020 schedule. Michigan has a “Stay at Home” order that won’t be lifted in time to start construction of the Belle Isle street course.

Penske Entertainment CEO Mark Miles said the Detroit event will return in 2021.

The IMS road course essentially will have a doubleheader spaced out by nearly three months. The first race will be the GMR IndyCar Grand Prix on July 4, and the second will be Oct. 3 in the Harvest Grand Prix.

The extra doubleheaders combined with the loss of Detroit gives IndyCar a 15-race schedule for 2020. It started out as a 17-race campaign, but April’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, the Acura Grand Prix of Indianapolis and the AutoNation IndyCar Classic at Circuit of The Americas (COTA) have been canceled. The season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is being revived as the season finale on a TBA weekend in October.

Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Newgarden also is excited about the chance to run at Indianapolis for three major races in one season. Of course, that all depends on how soon IndyCar can return to action because of the global pandemic.

“I’m continually excited about the thought of getting back to the race track,” Newgarden said. “We would love to be there now, but we can’t. With the current situation, everyone is trying to do the best they can to pitch in and do their part so we can get back to the track as quickly as possible.

“I’m excited to get back to racing at some point in the future. To see that is planned to start at Texas is still great. IndyCar has done a great job staying active and fluid with the ever-changing dynamics and current situation.

“We have three opportunities at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. There are a lot of chances to get it right at the Mecca of our sport.

“I have a lot of trust and faith in IndyCar and Roger, and they are doing their best to stay on top of the situation.”

The one downer to the revised schedule is the loss of the Detroit doubleheader, a very important weekend to Team Penske because Roger Penske also owns the Detroit race. It’s a chance to showcase the series in front of as “Motor City” crowd, which is also the home to the Penske Corp.

“It’s a shame that we miss any event this year,” Newgarden said. “As a racer, you look forward to each one of them. If any of them drop off, it’s a tough pill. Detroit is more so because it is such an important race for us at Team Penske. It’s in our backyard for Penske Corp. Also, our relationship with Chevrolet, how much they put I that event and try to get it right for everybody involved. It’s tough to not have a go at that this year.

“I think of the volunteers. The Detroit weekend is so well run and executed with such a positive momentum behind it for the last eight years that I’ve gone there. I’ve always enjoyed that weekend off the back of the Indy 500.

“It’s a shame we will miss that this year, but I look forward to getting back there in 2021 and getting it started again.”

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500