Johnson Tabbed for Driver of the Year Honor
DARLINGTON, S.C. (Jan. 21, 2017) – Jimmie Johnson, who won a record-tying seventh NASCAR championship this past season, has been voted the winner of the 2016 Richard Petty Driver of the Year Award presented by the National Motorsports Press Association.
Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports, was named on 62 percent of the ballots cast for the award of the NMPA membership. Others receiving votes were Carl Edwards (Joe Gibbs Racing), Martin Truex Jr. (Furniture Row Racing), Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart (Stewart-Haas Racing) and Joey Logano (Team Penske).
““It’s an honor,” Johnson said of the recognition. “Each year has its’ own special thing about it. To be voted for this and against other racers in other series and divisions and on and on, even though I’ve won it six other times, it still has a very special meaning.”
Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt and Johnson are the only NASCAR drivers to win seven titles in what is now known as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
The announcement was made during the NMPA’s annual Convention and Awards Dinner held in Concord, N.C.
It marks the seventh time Johnson, 41, has received the Driver of the Year honor. He also won the award in 2004, ’06, ’07, ’09, ’10, and ’13.
Johnson won five races in 2016, including the season-ending Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway which clinched his seventh championship. He ended the year with 11 top-five and 16 top-10 finishes in 36 races.
“When I look at the year we had and reflect back to the summer and how difficult things were for us and to pull it together … to live it firsthand is one thing but for my peers and the industry to also recognize that and award us … means an awful lot,” Johnson said.
“The final 10 races there definitely was the championship feeling, although this format is just so different. The emotions – it’s funny because you get invested in all three race blocks and you kind of get used to that and (then) it’s a one race, winner-take-all. There’s no rhythm to it, unlike the other championships I’ve won under previous formats. There’s always been some kind of rhythm to it. This deal has none.
“With that said though, I had a feeling after we won in Martinsville … there was help from above. There was a very spiritual experience that started in Martinsville with the victory there and carried it right through taking the checkered flag in Homestead. Although Homestead didn’t go our way until two laps to go or three laps to go, in my heart of hearts I just felt like it was going to happen. And it did.”
The award is named in honor of Petty, NASCAR’s win leader in its top series with 200 victories. It has been presented annually by the NMPA since 1969. Twenty-three different drivers have won the award since its inception.
“He’s the king,” Johnson noted, “so it’s a huge honor.”
Pearce named recipient of NMPA Pocono Spirit Award
DARLINGTON, S.C. (Jan. 21, 2017) – Veteran motorsports journalist Al Pearce has been named the 2016 recipient of the National Motorsports Press Association’s Pocono Spirit Award.
Pearce, of Newport News, Va., was one of four quarterly award recipients this past season and was chosen for the overall award by a vote of the NMPA membership.
Other quarterly recipients were Joe Gibbs Racing spotter Chris Osborne, motorsports artist Jeanne Barnes and former NASCAR driver Mike Skinner and his wife, Angie.
Pearce raised more than $13,000 through the auction of a racing helmet bearing the signatures of the 20 living World Driving Champions as well as those of Phil Hill and Sir Jack Brabham prior their passing. Proceeds from the project, which took nearly four years to complete, went to the Victory Junction Gang Camp, the Kyle Petty Charity Ride, the Jimmie Johnson Foundation and the Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation.
He is employed by Autoweek and is a member of the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame.
The NMPA Pocono Spirit Award recognizes character and achievement in the face of adversity, sportsmanship and contributions to motorsports. It is sponsored by Pocono (Pa.) Raceway and has been presented by the NMPA each year since 1992.
Ferroni Named Ken Patterson Award Recipient
DARLINGTON, S.C. – Veteran public relations representative Dave Ferroni has been named the 2016 recipient of the Ken Patterson Helping Others Award.
Ferroni has been involved in various forms of auto racing for more than 30 years. His company, DMF Communications, currently handles public relations for Furniture Row Racing and driver Martin Truex Jr. in NASCAR’s premier series.
Publicist for the gold-medal winning U.S hockey team in 1980, Ferroni has served in a public relations capacity for Brainerd (Minn.) International Raceway and the National Hot Rod Association in addition to his work in NASCAR. His company’s accounts have included the U.S. Army, Miller Brewing Co., Pennzoil, McDonald’s and Valvoline.
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.
Ferroni was presented the award during the NMPA’s annual convention Saturday, Jan. 21 in Concord, N.C.
Talladega Superspeedway, co-presenter of the award, will donate $1,000 in Ferroni’s name to the Kenneth Patterson Educational Trust Fund.
Also receiving votes for this year’s award were Lisa Hughes Kennedy (GOLIN/Toyota NASCAR PR), Dennis Worden (Darlington Raceway) and Jessica Stroupe (Chevrolet Racing).
Pockrass 2016 recipient of NMPA Joe Littlejohn Award
DARLINGTON, S.C. – ESPN.com motorsports writer Bob Pockrass has been named the recipient of the National Motorsports Press Association’s Joe Littlejohn Award for 2016.
The award is named after the former track owner from Spartanburg, S.C., and is presented annually by the NMPA in recognition for outstanding service to the organization.
Pockrass recently completed his eighth year as secretary treasurer for the NMPA. Before moving to ESPN.com, he covered motorsports for sportingnews.com, NASCAR Scene and the Daytona Beach News-Journal. He is a graduate of Indiana University.
The Joe Littlejohn Award has been presented annually since 1970.
“Bob has not only been a tremendous friend, but he has been an outstanding member of the organization,” NMPA president Kenny Bruce said. “His approach to his duties while in office has been no different than his approach to his job covering the sport – he is diligent, fair and one of the hardest working individuals I’ve known.”
Pockrass was presented the award during the annual NMPA convention and awards dinner held Jan. 21 in Concord, N.C.
According to records, Littlejohn, who passed away in 1989, was the first driver to top the 100-mph mark in a stock car on a measured mile. The record was established in 1950 on the sand at Daytona Beach, Fla. He raced before the formation of NASCAR in 1948, and eventually turned his attention to promoting the sport.
He is credited with organizing the NMPA and is a member of its Hall of Fame.