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

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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

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”