Truex, Earnhardt, Smith Among Winners at Myers Brothers Awards
As tradition with Champion’s Week, the day before the banquet sees drivers and industry members honored at the National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) Myers Brothers Awards.
On top of celebrating his championship, Martin Truex Jr. and girlfriend Sherry Pollex were presented the NMPA Myers Brother Award. Determined by a vote of the NMPA membership, it recognizes individuals and/or groups who have provided outstanding contributions to the sport of stock car racing and has been presented annually since 1958.
“I did not expect this at all,” Pollex said on stage. “I’m about to cry. It’s been a crazy year for both of us, both personally and professionally, with my cancer….”
Beyond the success on track, Truex and Pollex have raised funds and created awareness about childhood cancers by hosting a fashion show, titled Catwalk for a Cause, that sees childhood and teenagers who have beaten or continue to fight cancer walk alongside a celebrity. The eighth annual edition in 2017 raised more than $500,000.
The pair also launched “Drive for Teal & Gold” in 2016 where fellow competitors run steering wheels accented in both colors throughout September, before being auctioned off to raise funds for ovarian and childhood cancers.
“This is definitely an unbelievable honor to receive this award,” Truex said. “We definitely didn’t see it coming, did not expect it. I think Sherry and I have been very fortunate in our lives to have all the things that we needed – great families, great parents that raised us right and taught us right from wrong. I think they probably deserve a lot of credit for us being who we are, and being able to give back and help people as being apart of this sport. It’s who we are, and we’ve learned so much from everybody.
“Everybody in the sport is willing to give back and willing to give their times to great causes, so we don’t deserve all the credit for this. I think we learned a lot of lessons from a lot of people in this room, and in this sport in general. So we’re very fortunate and definitely lucky to give our time to great causes. I’m so proud of her for her fight, her battle, what she’s been able to get through, and at the same time to still be willing to help others and give time.”
The other award winners from the ceremonies are listed below.
– 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship crew chief Cole Pearn was officially presented his trophy, and made his speech to celebrate the team’s accomplishment. As with previous years, the crew chief does their year-end speech at the Myers Brothers Awards instead of at the year-end banquet.
“So I only got a few minutes here so be ready for a lot of thank yous and try not to doze off, but if you do, let it be peaceful,” Pearn began his speech. “I need to start off by thanking Barney Visser and the whole Visser family. They came up with the ridiculous idea of starting a NASCAR team in Colorado. I went out there on a complete whim eight years ago, and I can’t believe we’re champions. At one point, it seemed a top-10 would just be a pipe dream.”
– Erik Jones was officially presented the 2017 Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award. He becomes the first driver to win the prize in each of NASCAR’s national series.
“I am honored to be able to stand up here today as the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year,” Jones said. “It was an incredible learning year for me and my Furniture Row teammates, and a time that I will always remember. We accomplished so many goals that we set out for ourselves before the season began. But before I go any further, I would like to congratulate my teammate Martin Truex Jr., crew chief Cole Pearn, and everybody on the No. 78 team for your championship. Martin, you were the class of the field all season, and you made it happen despite all the pressure and distractions that the playoffs bring with it. You’re going to be a great champion for our sport so enjoy every accolade that you receive this week.
“There’s so many people that I need to thank, but that has to begin with Furniture Row Racing and Barney Visser. Barney had a vision of what it could be and did it in his own way. He went through the early struggles like every team has, but he kept that vision alive and the team got stronger and stronger. I hate that he can’t be here today, because this is a huge accomplishment as an owner. So I want to thank you, and congratulations on a well-deserved season.”
– Bruton Smith became the 61st recipient of the Buddy Shuman Award for helping to shape and grow stock car racing through his race track promoting over the years.
“I think raising 500 million and something for Children’s Charities is a big one,” Smith said of his accomplishments. “Buddy Shuman was a special friend of mine. He and I kind of grew up together in a way, and I liked Buddy a lot, and he and I worked together many many times.
– Martin Truex Jr. was presented a 24-caret 1/12th scale car from Goodyear in recognition of his championship. He also won the Sunoco Diamond Performance Award and American Ethanol Award.
– Dale Earnhardt Jr. earned the Chevrolet Lifetime Achievement for his success on-track over the past 17 years, including two Daytona 500 victories, along with his charitable efforts through his foundation. The manufacture gave Earnhardt a trophy, as well as a 2018 Corvette to put towards his foundation’s charity initiatives in 2018.
“I don’t know how many years now they’ve done that for the foundation, but we’ve raised $350,000 this year with just that raffle alone,” Earnhardt spoke of the car raffle. “It’s been a real pleasure growing up in a Chevy family. I drive Chevys because of my dad obviously, and have always driven Chevys, and we couldn’t of had more fun. We’ll keep on driving them, so thanks for having me as part of the family and appreciate the acknowledgement today.”
– Kyle Larson won the Mobil 1 Driver of the Year Award.
– Toyota Racing Development was presented the Mahle Engine Builder of the Year Award.
– Tony Gibson, crew chief for Kurt Busch, earned the Moog Go The Extra Mile Crew Chief Award, which recognizes the team with the most improvement from the first half of an event to the second.
“What I love about this award is the crew chief is usually digging the driver out of a hole that I put him in,” Busch, who accept the award on Gibson’s behalf, said. “So Tony Gibson did that a lot for us this year – pit strategy, making calls on wedge adjustments, air pressure adjustments. Most importantly, it exemplifies the leadership that Tony Gibson provides to the 41 team. So on his behalf and everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing, happy to bring this trophy back to him. He’s probably in a deer stand today and couldn’t make it to Las Vegas.
– Kyle Busch‘s pit crew was presented the Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew Award.
– Broadcast partners FOX and NBC shared the Marketing Achievement Award.
– Kyle Busch won the Sherwin Williams Fastest Lap Award and earned the most Coors Light Pole Awards with eight this season. In recognition, Coors Light donated $33,000 to Busch and wife Samantha’s Bundle of Joy fund.
“Normally I get one or two (poles) a year,” Busch said. “So to think that I doubled my career poles just this year is pretty remarkable. So you don’t earn that many poles or fastest lap awards without fast racecars, and the countless people that work on them every week. So I can’t thank Adam Stevens and the entire 18 team enough, everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing for helping bring us really fast racecars to the track. Of course, Toyota, TRD, Andy Graves, David Wilson – you guys are amazing. All the hard work and dedication that everybody has in our program that allows us go out there and not only sit on poles, but of course win a lot of races. It just makes our year so much more special.
“Thanks to everybody at Sherwin Williams and Coors Light for not only giving out these awards, but also as I mentioned, Miller Coors for donating the money to the Kyle Busch Foundation. Samantha tells me with that money we’ll be able to help out with the Bundle of Joy Fund and help out two families be able to have children of their own. And I’m sure Coors Light knows this, but they make a heck of a lot more babies than that per year. Still, we appreciate what they do for the Bundle of Joy Fund.”
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