Andretti, Evernham, Waid inducted into NMPA Hall of Fame
Mario Andretti, the only driver to win the Indianapolis 500, the Daytona 500 and the Formula One world championship, headlines this year’s class of inductees for the National Motorsports Press Association NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Joining Andretti are Ray Evernham, a championship-winning crew chief and former NASCAR team owner, and award-winning journalist Steve Waid.
The three were officially inducted into the Hall Saturday evening during ceremonies held in Concord, N.C.
Andretti won four Indy car championships (1965, ’66, ’69, ’84) and the Indianapolis 500 in 1969. He is a 12-time winner in F1, and captured that series’ title in ’78.
While his NASCAR endeavors were limited – he made only 14 starts between 1966 and ’69 – Andretti was a winner in stock cars as well. His ’67 Daytona 500 victory came while driving for the legendary Holman-Moody team.
Between 1993 and ’99 Evernham won three NASCAR Cup titles and 47 races while paired with driver Jeff Gordon at Hendrick Motorsports. He twice guided Gordon to wins in the Daytona 500 and in 1994 the team captured the inaugural Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Evernham left Hendrick to become a team owner following the ’99 season, and helped Dodge return to the sport in 2001. His Evernham Motorsports organization fielded cars for six drivers between ’01 and ’07 – including former Cup champion Bill Elliott and Kasey Kahne.
Waid, a former president of the NMPA, has covered NASCAR for more than four decades. He is a former winner of the organization’s George Cunningham Writer of the Year award and in 1989 was presented the Henry T. McLemore Award for distinguished service in the field of motorsports journalism.
Waid and fellow Hall of Fame member Tom Higgins co-authored the biography “Junior Johnson – Brave in Life,” detailing the life and times of one of NASCAR’s most popular figures.
Andretti was named on 80 percent of the ballots cast by the NMPA membership, Evernham 75 percent and Waid 67 percent.
Receiving votes but not named on the required 65 percent minimum for induction were team owner Joe Gibbs and former Busch Series competitor L.D. Ottinger.
The NMPA Hall of Fame is located on the grounds of Darlington (S.C.) Raceway. The first class was inducted in 1965, and this year’s group brings its membership total to 94.
Johnson edges Kenseth for Richard Petty Driver of the Year Award
Six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson can add one more title to his already impressive resume before the 2014 season officially gets underway.
For the sixth time, members of the National Motorsports Press Association have honored Johnson, selecting him as the winner of the Richard Petty Driver of the Year Award for 2013.
The announcement was made Jan. 25 during the NMPA’s annual convention in Concord, N.C.
Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet, edged 2003 Cup champion Matt Kenseth in voting by the NMPA membership. He received 50 percent of the votes cast; Kenseth received 48 percent while Tony Stewart was named on two percent of the ballots.
Johnson also earned driver of the year honors in 2004, ’06, ’07, ’09 and ’10. He is the only six-time recipient of the award - he and Dale Earnhardt were previously tied with five each.
The award is named in honor of seven-time champion Richard Petty.
Johnson’s six victories in 2013 pushed his career win total to 66, second highest among active drivers. He ended the season with 16 top-five and 24 top-10 finishes, eventually outpointing Kenseth by 19 for the Cup championship.
Although he’s now one step closer to the mark of seven Cup titles won by Petty and Earnhardt, Johnson said he isn’t driven by the race to match two of the sport’s legends.
“I’ve worked so hard and long to get to this point; I’m finally on top of my game,” he said during the 2013 NASCAR awards ceremonies in Las Vegas. “I’ve worked a lifetime to get here.
“There’s more motivation staying on top for those reasons than chasing stats and the historical things that are out there in front of me now; it’s really something that comes from within.”
In his first season with Joe Gibbs Racing, Kenseth led the Cup series in victories with seven in 2013, a career best for the Wisconsin native.
Stewart won once in 2013, but saw his season cut short after only 21 races when the three-time Cup champion suffered a broken leg during a sprint car race in August.
Scott selected for NMPA Spirit Award honor
Marcy Scott, the former marketing and promotions director for Atlanta Motor Speedway, has been selected as the 2013 recipient of the National Motorsports Press Association’s Spirit Award.
Scott spent eight years overseeing the marketing efforts for the Speedway Motorsports Inc.-owned facility. She passed away Nov. 1 following a lengthy battle with breast cancer. She was 42.
Prior to joining AMS, Scott worked in the public relations field for several years, representing numerous NASCAR teams and drivers.
The NMPA Spirit Award is designed to recognize character and achievement in the face of adversity, sportsmanship and contributions to motorsports. Each year, the NMPA membership selects four quarterly winners, with an overall winner chosen from the four candidates.
Scott was the fourth quarter recipient. Other recognized for their efforts were Sonoma Raceway’s John Cardinale (first quarter), six-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson (second quarter) and Kyle Busch Motorsports (third quarter).
“We sincerely appreciate and admire the efforts of all those who have been recognized by the membership throughout 2013,” Kenny Bruce, NMPA president, said. “Members from across the NASCAR community continue to set an example for each of us with their selfless contributions and efforts to help others.
“Marcy was a perfect example of that. Her generosity and kindness will be missed, but not forgotten.”
The announcement of the award came during the NMPA’s annual convention, held Jan. 26 in Concord, N.C.
Scott named recipient of Ken Patterson award
Marcy Scott of Atlanta Motor Speedway has been named the 2013 recipient of the Ken Patterson Helping Others Award.
Scott, who for eight years served as marketing and promotions director for the NASCAR-sanctioned facility, passed away Nov. 1. She was 42.
The announcement was made Jan. 26 during the National Motorsports Press Association’s annual convention, held in Concord, N.C.
Prior to joining the staff at AMS, Scott served as a public relations representative for several NASCAR teams and competitors.
Presented annually since 2004, the award is named in honor of the former director of public relations for Talladega Superspeedway and recognizes a representative in the motorsports industry (track, team and sanctioning body) that has exhibited the kind and generous qualities for which Patterson was known.
The recipient is determined by a vote of the NMPA membership.
“It’s easy to see why Marcy was so good at her job and so appreciated by those who knew her,” NMPA President Kenny Bruce said. “She was always generous with her time, extremely helpful and willing to do whatever was necessary to help members of the media do their jobs.
“But above all, she was just a very special person, full of warmth and kindness.”
Talladega Superspeedway, co-presenter of the award, will donate $1,000 in Scott’s name to the Kenneth Patterson Education Trust Fund.
Others receiving recognition for the award were Aimee Turner of Richmond International Raceway and Mike Arning of True Speed Communications.
Stewart recipient of 2013 Myers Brothers Award
LAS VEGAS – Tony Stewart, a three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, successful team owner and equally effective track owner, is this year's recipient of the National Motorsports Press Association's Myers Brothers Award.
Named in honor of former NASCAR competitors Billy and Bob Myers, the award was presented to Stewart on Dec. 5 during the NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Luncheon.
In addition to competing and consistently contending for NASCAR's ultimate prize as a driver, Stewart is also co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing, which will field four Sprint Cup teams for the first time in 2014.
His business endeavors reach far beyond the Cup Series, however. Stewart owns Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, and is part of ownership groups for Macon (Ill.) Speedway and Paducah (Ky.) International Raceway.
And his Tony Stewart Racing organization fields highly competitive entries in the USAC and the World of Outlaws series as well.
Earlier this year, Stewart accomplished a first for NASCAR when he and his management team brought a national series to Eldora, hosting the MudSummer Classic Camping World Truck Series event. It was the first time in more than four decades that a top NASCAR series had competed on dirt.
The event played out before a packed house and drew positive reviews from officials, competitors and most importantly, fans.
"If it only goes one year and we only get one opportunity to do it, is all the time, effort and worry worth it? Absolutely," Stewart said prior to the start of the event.
It was, he said "more than just a truck race."
"Big picture – this is big for every dirt track across the country and this is exposure that a lot of these tracks never get."
"I don't know of anyone more passionate about what they do than Tony Stewart," NMPA president Kenny Bruce said. "Before an injury sidelined him during the second half of the season, he was on pace to compete in more than 100 races in 2013. Tony eats, sleeps, lives and breathes racing and he understands the importance of the local weekend shows better than most. It's where he came from, and he's never forgotten that or those who made it possible."
Voted on each year by members of the NMPA, the Myers Brothers Award recognizes individuals and/or groups who have provided outstanding contributions to the sport of stock car racing. It has been awarded annually since 1958.
Fans Help Dale Earnhardt Jr. Break Record
DARLINGTON, S.C. – For the 11th consecutive year, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been presented the National Motorsports Press Association’s NASCAR Most Popular Driver award.
Earnhardt Jr. was selected through a season-long vote of the fans. His 2013 selection breaks a tie with Bill Elliott for most consecutive awards received. Elliott continues to hold the overall mark, having been named the series' most popular driver on 16 occasions.
"I don't really keep track of the stats or the score, but Bill was a great driver and ambassador for the sport," Earnhardt Jr. said. "He represents the sport really well to this day, as does his son Chase, who's coming up and carrying on the family name. But, I've always looked up to Bill as a driver so it's pretty neat."
More than 1 million votes were tallied for 39 eligible drivers this season at www.MostPopularDriver.com. Earnhardt Jr. collected more than 700,000 votes.
The award was presented to the Hendrick Motorsports driver during the annual NMPA Myers Brothers Luncheon, a part of the season-ending Champions Week activities in Las Vegas.
The final top-10 drivers, in order of votes received were: Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Danica Patrick, Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards.
"We always have such great support from our fans," Earnhardt Jr. said. "They always come through every year, and this year we feel like we were giving them a lot to cheer for on the race track and paying them back for all the years they've voted for us to win this award."
The NMPA Most Popular Driver distinction has been presented every year since 1956. Initially determined by a poll among drivers taken at season's end, it was later changed to allow members of the media to determine the winner. Today, race fans from all over the world make the ultimate decision.