Truex Jr. Named Richard Petty Driver of the Year
Martin Truex Jr., driver of the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in the NASCAR Cup Series, has been named the recipient of the Richard Petty Driver of the Year Award for 2019 by the National Motorsports Press Association.
Truex was named on 27.8 percent of the votes cast by the NMPA membership. The award was presented Saturday, Feb. 1 as part of the NMPA’s annual convention and awards ceremony held in Charlotte, N.C.
The 38-year-old native of Mayetta, N.J. won a career-best seven races this past season with four coming on superspeedways and three on short tracks. His final victory of the season came at Martinsville Speedway on Oct. 27, 2019 after leading 464 of 500 laps.
Truex ended his 16th season with a second-place finish in NASCAR Cup Series points behind two-time champion Kyle Busch. Truex also logged 15 top-fives and 24 top-10s throughout the 2019 Cup season.
The Richard Petty Driver of the Year award has been presented annually since 1969 to recognize the season’s most outstanding driver. It is named in honor of the seven-time NASCAR premier series champion.
Truex also received the Driver of the Year honors in 2017. Hendrick Motorsports driver Jimmie Johnson is a seven-time recipient of the award.
Chase Elliott Wins 2019 NMPA Most Popular Driver Award presented by Hooters
Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, has been named 2019 National Motorsports Press Association Most Popular Driver presented by Hooters. The award is the second of his five-year Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career.
Elliott’s selection was announced Thursday during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Awards program at the Music City Center in Nashville.
The 24-year old native of Dawsonville, Ga. was named through 39 percent of the votes cast by fans. His father, 1988 Cup Series champion Bill Elliott, has won the NMPA Most Popular Driver Award 16 times between 1984 and 2002.
The young rising star won races in 2019 at Talladega, AL., Watkins Glen, N.Y. and Charlotte, N.C. and finished 10th in Monster Energy Cup Series points.
Completing the top-five in this year’s voting were 2019 Cup series champion Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, Matt DiBenedetto, driver of the Leavine Family Racing Toyota, Martin Truex Jr., driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota and Ryan Blaney, driver of the No. 12 Team Penske Racing Ford.
Elliott was excited to receive the award for the second year in a row and, once again, he gave the credit to the fans, saying the coolest thing is seeing their support by wearing No. 9 hats, shirts and other gear. For the humble driver him, the fans are more important than hardware.
“I’m honored to have two. Last year, I was honored to have one,” Elliott said. You try to learn things here and there. And as I have told several people, it is really more than a trophy or an award, it is about the people at the racetrack. Some of them are hear tonight and I really enjoy seeing them wear your hat or t-shirt.”
The Most Popular Driver Award is the only major NASCAR award determined solely by fan vote. It has been presented annually since 1953; the recipients were originally determined by a poll of competitors. It became a fan-driven program in 1984 under the guidance of the NMPA.
In addition to hosting the voting platform for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series MPD award, fan votes to determine the Most Popular Driver in the NASCAR XFINITY and NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series were also hosted on NASCAR.com.
Justin Allgaier won the NASCAR XFINITY Series MPD award while Ross Chastain was voted Camping World Truck Series Most Popular driver. Allgaier and Chastain were honored Nov. 22nd during NASCAR Champions Week in Charlotte.
Darrell Waltrip Named 2019 NMPA Myers Brothers Recipient
Three-time NASCAR Cup series champion Darrell Waltrip has been named recipient of the National Motorsports Press Association’s Myers Brothers Award for 2019.
The award, named in honor of former NASCAR competitors Billy and Bobby Myers, was presented Dec. 5 during the annual Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Awards banquet held at the Music City Center in Nashville, Tenn.
The native of Owensboro, Kentucky began his driving career in go-karts at age 12 in 1959 and graduated to stock cars by the mid-1960s. Numerous victories on area short tracks led to track championships at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds Raceway in Nashville and further cemented his passion to be successful in NASCAR’s premier Winston Cup circuit beginning in the early 1970s.
Over a 30-year period, he became one of the greatest stars in NASCAR history, logging 84-career victories, including the 1989 Daytona 500. All three of Waltrip’s Cup series titles in 1981, 1982 and 1985 came while driving Chevrolets for driver turned team owner Junior Johnson, a fellow NMPA Hall of Fame inductee. During his illustrious career, Waltrip also wheeled cars for Bud Moore Engineering, Digard Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Dale Earnhardt, Inc. as well as his own team, to name a few.
He was named Driver of the Year in 1979, 1981, and 1982 and was chosen the Driver of the Decade for the 1980s. He was also awarded the NMPA Most Popular Driver in 1989 and in 1990 and named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998.
Upon his retirement from driving in 2000, Waltrip worked as analyst and race commentator for FOX Sports NASCAR telecasts from 2001 to 2019.
“I had no idea, this is a huge surprise,” Waltrip said. “To tell you the truth, Stevie (his wife) and I almost didn’t come. That would have been really embarrassing. This is a thrill. What a thrill. I thought retirement, kind of, sucked. But maybe with these things before I me, I will enjoy it a little more.
“I am really humbled for this award. I am really appreciative, thank you so much.”
The Myers Brothers Award is 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.
Edwards Tabbed as 2019 National Motorsports Press Association Joe Littlejohn Award Winner
Anne Edwards, a longtime support volunteer of the National Motorsports Press Association, has been named the recipient of the Joe Littlejohn Award for 2019.
Edwards began working with speedways in suite services in 1981 before joining R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. in the same capacity when the Winston Salem, N.C. based corporation served as Cup series sponsor from 1971 through 2003.
In 1987, Edwards became a part of the NMPA and began helping in a variety of roles, especially during the annual convention weekends. Over the past 33 years, she has served unselfishly to help coordinate the NMPA Awards and NMPA Hall of Fame ceremonies.
The award is named after Littlejohn, a former track owner from Spartanburg, S.C., and is presented annually by the NMPA in recognition for outstanding service to the organization.
Littlejohn is credited with organizing the NMPA and is a member of its Hall of Fame.
Edwards was surprised to receive the award.
“I had no idea this was coming, “Edwards said. “Being named the recipient of the NMPA Joe Littlejohn is truly a special honor for me. I’ve really enjoyed working with the NMPA all these years and still enjoyed many, many great friendships that have come from it. I’m so thankful to my late aunt, B.J. Wheeler, for asking me to help her in a support role at North Carolina Speedway many years ago. That led to helping with various duties with the NMPA. It’s been wonderful.”
Ken Patterson Helping Others Award Recipient
Mike Forde, Senior Director, Racing Communications for NASCAR, has been named the 2019 recipient of the Ken Patterson Helping Others Award.
Forde graduated from Fordam University with a degree in journalism in 2002. He also served as a reporter with The New York Post from May of 2000 to 2006 before joining NASCAR in January of 2007.
The Ken Patterson Award is determined by a vote of the National Motorsports Press Association membership and is sponsored by Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. The award has been presented annually since 2004 and is named in honor of Patterson, the former public relations director at Talladega. It recognizes public relations officials in the motorsports industry (team, track and sanctioning body) who have exhibited the kind, generous qualities always demonstrated by Patterson.
Forde was announced as the 2019 recipient during the NMPA’s annual convention Saturday, Feb. 1 in Charlotte, N.C.
Talladega Superspeedway will donate $1,000 in Forde’s name to the Kenneth Patterson Educational Trust Fund.
Others receiving votes for this year’s award were Kyle Zimmerman, Chris Dolack and Dennis Worden.
Corey LaJoie Recipient of 2019 NMPA Pocono Spirit Award for Work with Samaritanís Feet
Corey Lajoie, driver of the No. 32 GO FAS Racing Ford, has been selected the overall recipient of the 2019 National Motorsports Press Association’s Pocono Spirit Award.
Lajoie received the fourth quarter and overall award for his generosity in donating a month’s salary this past August to charity. LaJoie and his wife Kelly teamed with Samaritan’s Feet, an organization founded in 2003, to provide shoes to children and individuals in need to inspire hope and encouragement. With help from GO FAS Racing, $100,000 was raised through names placed on his car to support Samaritan’s Feet during the Cup race at Watkins Glen International.
The NMPA Pocono Spirit Award is designed to recognize character and achievement in the face of adversity, sportsmanship and contributions to motorsports. The NMPA membership selects quarterly recipients as well as an overall winner each year. The award is sponsored by Pocono (Pa.) Raceway and has been presented annually since 1992.
LaJoie received the award on Saturday, Feb. 1 during the organization’s annual convention and awards ceremony held in Charlotte, N.C.
“I joked when I received the award that I don’t usually get trophies very often,” LaJoie said with a smile. “This is one of those things that could be considered a heavenly treasure and not and earthy treasure. Being a part of this venture really was a GOD thing, every part of it. GOD had his hand in this. If I said it was all my idea that wouldn’t be true because HE had his hand in it. It was pretty cool to be involved with Samaritan’s Feet and to be recognized in front of the media for it is very special. Hopefully now they can be more aware of the cause.”
The NMPA Pocono Spirit Award is designed to recognize character and achievement in the face of adversity, sportsmanship and contributions to motorsports.
The membership of the NMPA selects quarterly recipients as well as an overall winner each year. The award is sponsored by Pocono (Pa.) Raceway and has been presented annually since 1992.
Other quarterly nominees throughout 2019 were; Austin and Ty Dillion for their annual 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament benefitting the Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma, the Ryan Blaney Foundation in support of Alzheimer’s research and Kurt Busch for his KB100 race ticket giveaway to members of the United States military.