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In recognition of her leadership and accomplishments as founder and chairwoman emeritus of the NASCAR Foundation, the late Betty Jane France was named the recipient of the 2016 Myers Brothers Award. The prestigious honor recognizes those who have made outstanding contributions to stock car racing and is voted upon by the National Motorsports Press Association.
A philanthropist in support of children’s health causes, France started the NASCAR Foundation in 2006. Through her leadership and passion over the past decade, the NASCAR Foundation has raised more than $25 million and improved the lives of one million children across the country.
In 2011, the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award Presented by Nationwide was created in her honor. Each year it is granted to a person who exhibits the unwavering commitment to philanthropic and community efforts that Betty Jane demonstrated throughout her life.
France, a longtime community leader in Daytona Beach, Florida, helped establish the “Speediatrics” children’s care units at Halifax Health in Daytona Beach, Homestead Hospital in Homestead, Florida, and NYU Langone Medical Center in New York.
In addition to her guidance of the NASCAR Foundation, she served as NASCAR executive vice president and assistant treasurer, helping her husband, former NASCAR President Bill France Jr., elevate the sanctioning body to America’s No. 1 form of motorsports.
France is the mother of NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France and International Speedway Corporation CEO Lesa France Kennedy.
The Myers Brothers Award – named after pioneer NASCAR competitors Billy and Bobby Myers – has been presented every year since 1958.
Eighteen other awards were given out at the luncheon, acknowledging achievements ranging from marketing excellence to success on the track and skill in the garage.
Here is the complete list of Thursday’s award winners from the NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Awards
- NMPA Myers Brothers Award: Betty Jane France
- Buddy Shuman Award: Jack Roush
- NASCAR Marketing Achievement Award: Comcast XFINITY
- Chevrolet Cross Flags Award: Tony Stewart
- American Ethanol Green Flag Restart Award: Kevin Harvick
- Coors Light Pole Award: Carl Edwards
- Duralast Brakes “Brake in the Race” Award: Kyle Busch
- Goodyear NASCAR Series Champion Award: Jimmie Johnson
- Ingersoll Rand Power Move Award: Dave Rogers, Joe Gibbs Racing No. 19 Crew Chief
- MAHLE Clevite Engine Builder of the Year Award: Scott Vester, Hendrick Engines No. 4 team
- Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew Award: Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 team
- Mobil 1 Driver of the Year Award: Kyle Busch
- MOOG Steering & Suspension Problem Solver of the Year Award: Alan Gustafson, crew chief No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team
- Sherwin-Williams Fastest Lap Award: Kyle Busch
- Sunoco Diamond Performance Award: Jimmie Johnson
- Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award: Chase Elliott
- Champion Sponsor Award: Lowe’s
- Champion Crew Chief Award: Chad Knaus
- Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award Presented by Nationwide: Andy Hoffman
Four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon will make his return to the Rolex 24 At Daytona for the first time in 10 years as Wayne Taylor Racing today confirmed Gordon alongside full-season co-drivers Jordan and Ricky Taylor and endurance driver Max Angelelli as the driver lineup in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R for the 55th Rolex 24 At Daytona. The race opens the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season on Jan. 28-29, 2017.
Gordon’s lone previous Rolex 24 appearance in 2007 came with the same team. He co-drove the No. 10 Pontiac Riley Daytona Prototype with Angelelli, Wayne Taylor and Jan Magnussen to a third-place result.
"When I announced I would no longer be competing full-time in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, my hope was that I would get an opportunity like this to compete again in such a prestigious event – with Konica Minolta and Wayne Taylor Racing – with the hopes of winning it this time," Gordon said. "I know that Ricky and Jordan are super-fast, and I believe it will be a very strong combination."
Gordon, now an analyst on NASCAR on FOX telecasts, and the No. 10 team will be part of the debut race for the brand-new Cadillac DPi-V.R, which was officially unveiled Wednesday by the manufacturer.
"I think it is exceptional to have Jeff back with us after 10 years," Angelelli said. "I look forward to sharing our new Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R racecar with him, discussing our setup and race strategy. It was great the first time – we might have won that race if some things would have gone our way. Now that it’s happening again, with the new car, it’s going to be absolutely great."
Ricky and Jordan Taylor, who finished third in the 2016 WeatherTech Championship Prototype standings, are also looking forward to running with the NASCAR legend.
"It used to be common to have NASCAR guys joining teams for the Rolex but, over recent years, it’s become less and less frequent," Jordan Taylor said. "Jeff Gordon is a name that everyone knows worldwide. I can’t wait to compare notes and feedback with such a legend of our sport. It’s going to be an experience of a lifetime."
"Having Jeff Gordon join the team is really a dream come true for all of us," added Ricky Taylor. "It is a huge compliment to how well-respected the team has become over the years for someone with the history and career of Jeff Gordon to want to be a part of it. I’m sure he will be a great addition to the lineup and hopefully we can all get our first Rolex 24 win together."
The No. 10 entry will compete for the overall Rolex 24 race victory in the WeatherTech Championship’s Prototype (P) class. It will be one of three Cadillac DPi-V.R race cars in the field, as three-time defending series champions Action Express Racing confirmed its plans to field a pair of the new race cars earlier Thursday morning.
Gordon, who has participated in private test sessions with the team in recent weeks, is expected to join the team for the upcoming IMSA-sanctioned test at Daytona International Speedway in Dec. 13-14, as well as the three-day Roar Before The Rolex 24 At Daytona test on Jan. 6-8, 2017 prior to the race on the final weekend of January.
NASCAR and International Speedway Corporation have named veteran FBI executive and risk management expert Christopher Davis as Managing Director and Chief Security Officer.
Davis will lead strategy development and execution for corporate, facility and event security, working closely with international and federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies on behalf of fans, venues, teams, and infrastructure. Davis will assume leadership of the NASCAR and ISC senior management-directed implementation of their enterprise-wide security strategies. Through his role at NASCAR, Davis also will work closely with other venues that host NASCAR-sanctioned races.
Davis brings a distinguished public and private sector leadership background to the new position, including service as an Assistant Special Agent in Charge and Inspector for the FBI. In addition to his lengthy FBI tenure, Davis held senior executive positions with private firms Contemporary Services Corporation and Sequrus, LLC.
“With his broad experience and proven success as a leader at every level, Chris is exactly the right fit to oversee the very complex security and risk management operations for our sport,” said Mike Helton, Vice Chairman, NASCAR. “His involvement with the Olympics, multiple professional and college sports championships and other mass gathering events makes him the ideal choice to evolve and implement full-spectrum security strategies for our events, facilities and business.”
“We’re pleased that we were able to work with NASCAR to hire a professional of Chris’ caliber,” said John Saunders, President, ISC. “He will manage our entire portfolio of facilities and events, which are led by NASCAR races but also increasingly include other entertainment events. This hire is reflective of ISC’s desire to always put the fans first as we grow and expand our business.”
A native of New Jersey, Davis earned his undergraduate degree from San Diego State University and a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice from Boston University. Prior to joining the FBI, Davis played briefly in the National Football League (NFL).
Davis oversaw security and emergency preparedness operations for numerous high profile events and venues during his FBI career. Among the highlights are:
- Supervisory Special Agent, Los Angeles Joint Terrorism Task Force, where he managed interagency coordination;
- Sector Commander, Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, where Davis was hand-selected to lead and manage assets charged with ensuring venue and operational security for the 2002 Winter Olympic games;
- Assistant Legal Attaché, United States Embassy, Ottawa, Canada, where he oversaw security and contingency planning for the G-8 Summit as well as Presidential and Secretary of State delegation visits
- Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Executive Manager, Orlando and Tampa, Florida, where Davis was principally charged with directing the FBI’s security effort for Super Bowl XLIII, the 2008 World Series and NBA Finals, the 2012 NBA All-Star Game and Weekend, and the 2012 Republican National Convention.
After completing his FBI career, Davis served as Senior Vice President for Contemporary Services Corporation and Vice President for Sequrus, overseeing those firms’ security consulting and business development efforts.
FOX SPORTS: You just became a mother for the second time, giving birth to Sierra. How is she doing and how has Carter adjusted to becoming a big brother?
LITTLE: “She is wonderful. Our little angel. We tried for a couple of years to have another and really didn't think it was in the cards for us. Then, the day after this year's Daytona 500, we found out I was pregnant. She's truly a miracle. Carter is adjusting to big-brother status. He loves her but is scared of her at the same time.”
FOX SPORTS: Sierra’s name has a special meaning for you. How did you choose it?
LITTLE: “I was born in South Lake Tahoe, Calif., home of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. If you've been there, you know it's truly heaven on earth. You also see ‘Sierra’ as the name of so many things there. It's a name I really loved and we discussed before our first child was born. There wasn't another girl’s name on the list. It suits her perfectly. Sierra Lynn Selman -- sounds like a country singer, doesn't it?”
FOX SPORTS: Daytona will be here before you know it, and now you’ll have two children to juggle on the road. What are your plans for traveling with the children this season and, in particular, at Daytona?
LITTLE: “I so wish I was able to travel with my kids to every race, but there's just no way. Given that I live on the West Coast, the flights are too long for little ones to do every week. Plus, when I'm on the road I'm at the track most of my waking hours. It wouldn't be fair to the kids. However, every year we go to Daytona as a family for the two weeks of SpeedWeeks. We rent a condo there and have the whole family come. It's worked out great with Carter the last two years, and now we'll add Sierra to the mix. I work such long hours while there that it's such a blessing to come back to the condo and see their little faces and get to be mom. Plus, we take our son to the track a couple times, and he loves it. Kyle Busch is his favorite, as he lines his pockets with M&M's while there.”
FOX SPORTS: You recently became one of nine women in your hometown of Las Vegas to be recognized for your charitable work with the annual Vegas Gives award. Tell us about your charity of choice and why it’s a passion of yours.
LITTLE: “This was such a nice surprise. Such powerful, influential women top that list each year, so I was definitely surprised to be honored. I'm on the Board of Trustees for the Las Vegas chapter of Speedway Children's Charities (founded by Bruton Smith, with chapters located at all of his SMI tracks). I'm passionate about helping underprivileged kids, so this is a perfect way to give back. I chose them because they are a smaller charity that doesn't get the attention most of the other charities receive locally. Every dollar I can raise for this Vegas Gives event goes straight to SCC. This year, I raised $5,000. It's a great fundraising opportunity for me.”
FOX SPORTS: You are extremely active in the animal community in Las Vegas and have published a calendar. Tell us about this and how you got started with these efforts.
LITTLE: “When I signed with FOX I suddenly had the second half of the year free, something I've never had before. So, I took advantage of the time off by signing up to volunteer at The Animal Foundation here in Vegas. It's Nevada's largest shelter and one of the largest in the country. They received 34,000 homeless animals in 2015 alone. Staggering numbers. They cannot turn an animal away, no matter the size, health or temperament. I started working with the animals and walking dogs a few times a week and quickly realized I wanted to do more. I created the ‘Las Vegas to the Rescue’ calendar. I asked local celebs like UFC star Miesha Tate, Wayne Newton, Carrot Top and even NASCAR driver Brendan Gaughan to pose with shelter dogs that I chose. I literally would pick up a dog of choice from the shelter and drive to the shoot. I'm happy to say we raised about $5,000 and every dog featured in the calendar found a home. My mission is to get everyone to adopt, not shop.”
FOX SPORTS: Once upon a time, you wanted a Clydesdale of your own. Has that gone anywhere, and if not, do you foresee ever owning one?
LITTLE: “Haha. Yes, I almost got a Budweiser Clydesdale. True story. When they sponsored Kevin Harvick two years ago, I was given the opportunity to visit Warm Springs Ranch in Missouri and see where all of the horses are bred and raised. They offered me a Clydesdale of my own. I went on a mission to find a place to board it in Vegas but came up short. Those horses eat a ton and need a lot of room and there isn't much here. I'd love to make that dream a reality one day. ONE DAY I will have a farm. I'm animal obsessed. Krissie Newman, Ryan Newman's wife, is my hero. What she's done with their Rescue Ranch is so inspiring. They rescue animals of all types and educate children, too.”
FOX SPORTS: What is the wildest thing you witnessed while covering the X Games? If you could choose any extreme game activity to participate in, which one would it be and why?
LITTLE: “I've been very lucky to have witnessed and reported on some of the biggest moments in X Games history. Most of those were in Freestyle Motocross. I was there when Carey Hart attempted the first ever backflip (Gravity Games, 2001), then when Mike Metzger pulled off the-first-ever back-to-back backflips at X Games and the biggest moment ever was when Travis Pastrana pulled a double backflip. Those are all moments that will live on in history and in my heart. Freestyle is too crazy for me, so if I was going to compete at X Games, I'd be in Rallycross. Racing without putting my life on the line.
FOX SPORTS: What would someone who doesn’t know you be surprised to learn about you?
LITTLE: “I'm an only child who was raised by a single mom. I don't watch much TV, never have. I won the 2008 Toyota Pro Celebrity race in Long Beach, edging out Mike Skinner. I became the 2nd woman to ever win it, on the same day that Danica Patrick won her sole IndyCar race in Japan.”
FOX SPORTS: Modeling has been a large part of your career. Has it helped you as a broadcaster in any way? And do you still model or do you have plans to in the future?
LITTLE: “I grew up watching my mom as a showgirl at Harrah's Lake Tahoe. She was also a model on the side. That was normal to me, so it was natural that I aspired to be a model out of high school. I didn't enjoy school and didn't want to go to college. After six months in Los Angeles, I quickly learned that modeling wasn't my cup of tea. I wanted to use my brain and voice instead of my looks to get ahead. I also realized that journalism was something I wanted to pursue, and if I was serious, I had to go to college. I signed up at San Diego State University and graduated with my journalism degree. I don't like modeling necessarily, but I enjoy being a spokesperson for different companies. That's fun.”
FOX SPORTS: What is your best memory of growing up the child of a showgirl? And did you inherit your mom’s dancing talents?
LITTLE: “First off, NO, I am not a dancer. I rode horses growing up and later raced downhill mountain bikes. No dancing talent in my body. My mom was a showgirl in the ‘80s. I met some pretty cool people. A lot of big stars used to perform in Lake Tahoe, including Sammy Davis Jr. I also used to get to watch the show, but I had to watch upstairs from the lighting booth. It was pretty neat to be surrounded by all the showgirls and guys. My mom was the only one with a child at the time, so I was kind of like their mascot. I learned early how cool and fun entertainment could be.”
FOX SPORTS: Is there anything in your career that you haven’t covered that you’d like to?
LITTLE: “I've always wanted to cover the Olympics. Any sport. That would be quite the experience. But I'm a motorsports girl and I'm happy to say I've covered everything in that realm, and more, than I wanted to.”
FOX SPORTS: You’ve raced dirt bikes in the past and did quite well. Who from your FOX NASCAR on-air team would you most like to take for a dirt bike ride?
LITTLE: “I just played around, doing some little races in my 20s. I was better at racing a car. Of my co-workers, I'd like to ride with Chris Neville. He owns a bike and loves to ride. I'd like to see Jeff Gordon throw his leg over a dirt bike, too. I really enjoy the time I get to spend with him. He's just so interesting with great stories.”
NBC Sports Group is gearing up to complete an unparalleled 2016 NASCAR season that featured more hours of trackside coverage and programing than ever before. NBC Sports Group presented 630 hours of NASCAR programming this year, including 366 live trackside hours from 22 different states. NBC Sports Group celebrates the season and honors Jimmie Johnson’s historic seventh championship, as well as the tremendous career of retiree Tony Stewart this Friday at 9 p.m. ET on NBCSN with the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards from Las Vegas.
Listed below are some key metrics from NBC Sports Group’s 2016 NASCAR coverage.
19 NASCAR XFINITY Series races presented by NBC Sports Group
20 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series presented by NBC Sports Group
21 Consecutive weeks of NASCAR Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series race coverage
22 States NBC Sports Group delivered NASCAR coverage from
37 NASCAR K&N Pro Series and Whelen Modified races presented by NBC Sports Group
366 Total hours of live trackside NASCAR coverage across NBC, NBCSN, CNBC and USA
264 Total hours of non-trackside NASCAR coverage on NBCSN
630 Total hours of NASCAR programming
3,327 NASCAR XFINITY Series race laps covered by NBC Sports Group
4,475.12 Total miles of NASCAR XFINITY Series races covered by NBC Sports Group
5,749 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race laps covered by NBC Sports Group
7,549.62 Total miles of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races covered by NBC Sports Group
873,000 Total unique devices that streamed NASCAR content on NBC Sports’ digital properties during 2016 season, up +50% vs. 2015
4.67 Million Live minutes streamed during the 2016 Sprint Cup Championship from Miami via the NBC Sports app and NBC Sports digital platforms
8.4 Million Peak TV viewers watched Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards and Joey Logano battle for the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship in Miami
105 Million Total live minutes of NASCAR content streamed on NBC Sports’ digital properties during 2016 season, up +56% vs. 2015
NBC Sports PR
The schedule will take the series to six countries, with twelve rounds of racing for its ELITE Division 1 and ELITE Division 2. Each event will be highlighted by four NASCAR Whelen Euro Series races: Two for the ELITE 1 Division and two for the ELITE 2 Division.
New this year will be races at the legendary Hockenheimring in Germany and the Autodromo di Franciacorta in Italy. The series will also return to Valencia in Spain, Brands Hatch in England and Venray in Netherlands, before crowning the 2017 champion at Zolder in Belgium.
Built on the foundations of a very successful 2016 season that attracted thousands of fans every weekend, the ninth season of the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series already promises to be the best in the history thanks to long-term partnerships with world class venues. With one of the most attractive and cost-effective formulas in motorsports, the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series looks forward to 2017 to further consolidate its position among the best series in Europe.
“We are very proud of this calendar and honored to work with such amazing circuits and organizations,” said Jerome Galpin, president of NASCAR Whelen Euro Series. “We will visit some of the greatest facilities in Motorsports and offer the fans one of the best racing experiences they can find in Europe, filled with pure racing in a fun American atmosphere. It’s also a tremendous value for every team, driver and their sponsors; no series in Europe can offer them a better and more cost-effective form of racing than NASCAR”.
“The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series has seen amazing growth and the fans have really embraced the series,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president. “We are excited about bringing the series to Hockenheimring and Franciacorta, and very pleased to continue our long-term relationships with four classic venues: Valencia, Brands Hatch, Venray and Zolder. Together, we are looking forward to unprecedented excitement in our European series and continuing the series’ progress.”
For the third consecutive year the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series season opener will be held in Spain at Valencia’s Circuit Ricardo Tormo. The track will host the third edition of the Valencia NASCAR Fest on April 8-9.
The series will then head to Brands Hatch on June 10-11 for another marquee event reaching its fifth edition and attracting a larger crowd every year: the American Speedfest. Legendary Hockenheimring will make its debut in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series with a dedicated American-themed event on July 1-2 for the delight of the large German NASCAR fanbase, while Raceway Venray, the “fastest half-mile in Europe,” will close the regular season in spectacular fashion with four nail-biting oval races on July 15-16 in the context of the Autospeedway American Style event.
On September 16-17 the playoffs – awarding double points for each race – will begin at the Autodromo di Franciacorta. Located in the north of Italy near the Garda lake, the 2.519-km road course will host Euro NASCAR for the first time. After another huge success in 2016, Belgium will host the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Finals for the third consecutive year at Circuit Zolder and crown the 2017 European NASCAR Champion.
Anthony Kumpen, the 2016 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series ELITE 1 Division champion, and other top drivers in the series will be honored in the United States next month. They will be on stage at the NASCAR Night of Champions Touring Series Awards on Saturday, Dec. 10 at the Charlotte Convention Center / NASCAR Hall of Fame in North Carolina. The awards will be broadcast live on FansChoice.tv and simulcast on NASCARHomeTracks.com, in English, Spanish and French.
See below for the complete NASCAR Whelen Euro Series schedule
2017 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series
|April 8||Round 1||Valencia||Spain||Road Course||4.005 Km|
|April 9||Round 2||Valencia||Spain||Road Course||4.005 Km|
|June 10||Round 3||Brands Hatch Indy||Great Britain||Road Course||1.929 Km|
|June 11||Round 4||Brands Hatch Indy||Great Britain||Road Course||1.929 Km|
|July 1||Round 5||Hockenheimring||Germany||Road Course||3.692 Km|
|July 2||Round 6||Hockenheimring||Germany||Road Course||3.692 Km|
|July 15||Round 7||Raceway Venray||Netherlands||Oval||0.880 Km|
|July 16||Round 8||Raceway Venray||Netherlands||Oval||0.880 Km|
|–– PLAYOFFS: DOUBLE POINTS ––|
|September 16||Semi Final 1||Franciacorta||Italy||Road Course||2.519 Km|
|September 17||Semi Final 2||Franciacorta||Italy||Road Course||2.519 Km|
|October 14||Final 1||Circuit Zolder||Belgium||Road Course||4.011 Km|
|October 15||Final 2||Circuit Zolder||Belgium||Road Course||4.011 Km|
In the spring, Liberty University will pilot its first course in automotive dealership management, thanks to a partnership with Hendrick Automotive Group, the nation’s largest privately held automotive retail organization. Liberty plans to offer a full specialization next fall, under its Bachelor of Science in Business Administration.
Dan DeHass, executive general manager for Mall of Georgia Mazda, Mall of Georgia MINI and Rick Hendrick Buick GMC, said there is a “giant void” for educating students in automotive dealership management and that most college students may not realize the “unbelievable opportunities within the industry.” Only two other colleges in the nation have these programs, even though the U.S. has the second-largest automotive industry in the world (behind China).
“I couldn’t think of anybody better to partner with on this journey than Liberty,” DeHass said, praising the standard to which Liberty holds its students and the school’s efforts to help students transition into the workplace.
Dr. Scott Hicks, dean of Liberty’s School of Business, said it was an honor to have Hendrick Automotive Group reach out to the university for this opportunity.
“We are partnering with the nation’s best to do this,” he said, noting the core values that the two organizations share. “It’s phenomenal to see how amazingly well their philosophy aligns with that of Liberty University. We both have this desire to serve our employees or our students and to grow our organizations with people who have a desire to serve something bigger than themselves.”
Students will be trained in managing a dealership as well as how to adapt to technology in an ever-changing marketplace.
“The purpose is building future owners of dealerships,” Hicks said. “If we can get students to think like owners and to learn the business that well, they are going to make phenomenal employees and, potentially, owners.”
Hendrick Automotive Group is working with Liberty to develop the curriculum, and some of its employees will contribute to course instruction, including prerecorded and live videos. The North Carolina-based automotive company has an extensive training program in place, which will be incorporated into expanding Liberty’s curriculum. Residential coursework begins this January, with online beginning in Fall 2017.
In addition to classroom learning, specialization will include two eight-week internships at a Hendrick Automotive Group dealership.
Encompassing 102 dealerships from the Carolinas to California, Hendrick Automotive Group is the largest privately held automotive retail organization in the United States. Headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, the company employs more than 10,000 people in its dealerships, collision centers and accessories distributor installers in 14 states. For more information, please visit www.HendrickAuto.com.
Liberty University PR
Stenhouse-Wood Racing PR
The fans have spoken.
More than 47,000 votes were cast world-wide for the 2016 NASCAR touring series’ Most Popular Driver Awards and six drivers have earned the honor of fan favorite.
The 2016 Most Popular Driver Award winners are:
- Austin Theriault (Fort Kent, Maine), NASCAR K&N Pro Series East
• Salvatore Iovino (Los Angeles), NASCAR K&N Pro Series West
• Melissa Fifield (Wakefield, N.H.), NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour
• Trey Hutchens (Lexington, N.C.), NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour
• Jason Hathaway (St. Thomas, Ont.), NASCAR Pinty’s Series
• Alon Day (Ashdod, Israel), NASCAR Whelen Euro Series
The list includes four repeat winners – Melissa Fifield, Trey Hutchens, Jason Hathaway and Alon Day.
There was also nearly an historic first: Hutchens, who competed in both the K&N Pro Series East and Whelen Southern Modified Tour this year, finished a close second to Theriault in the K&N Pro East voting while taking the top honors in the Whelen Southern Modified Tour for the second straight year.
Fifield won the award for the third straight season in the Whelen Modified Tour.
Iovino emerged in front in a close three-way battle in the K&N Pro West with Jesse Iwuji and series champion Todd Gilliland.
Hathaway, who announced he was retiring from full-time competition after racing in all 121 events in series history, ran away with the award in the Pinty’s Series.
Day, who was selected to the NASCAR Next program as one of the sport’s rising stars, won the award for the second consecutive season.
The award was open to any driver who competed in at last half of the races in their respective series.
Monday, Elliott Sadler (NASCAR XFINITY Series) and Tyler Reddick (NASCAR Camping World Truck Series) received the Most Popular Driver Award for their respective series in their awards gala at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel.
The NASCAR touring series Most Popular Drivers will be recognized on stage as part of the NASCAR Touring Series Night of Champions on Saturday, Dec. 10 at the Charlotte (North Carolina) Convention Center at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
“I applaud our advisory board for the outstanding job they did in evaluating the seven drivers and want to say a special thanks to last year’s inaugural champion Ty Majeski for also taking part in the process,” said KDDP Executive Director Tom Roberts. “The battle for this year’s Kulwicki Cup title was as exciting and intense as it could be. Unlike last season when our champion (Majeski) had such a spectacular fall that he distanced himself from the competition, this contest was incredibly close and went down to the wire.
“The final point standings certainly reflect the importance of everything that goes into winning our prestigious award. It’s not just what you do on the race track that counts. Our mission is to help worthy drivers toward reaching their dreams while at the same time keeping Alan Kulwicki’s memory and legacy alive. I think our board and Ty did an excellent job in keeping that goal paramount in this undertaking.
“The board members and Ty were superb in completing their assignment,” said Roberts. “They considered each driver’s on-track accomplishments and continued to place great value on community involvement, off-track projects and social media activities. They awarded bonus points for drivers going the extra mile in representing our organization.”
The final 2016 KDDP “Kulwicki Cup” point standings:
1) – Alex Prunty – 533
2) – Dave Farrington Jr. – 525
3) – Michael Ostdiek -- 496
4) – Jeremy Doss – 488
5) – Brandon Setzer – 246
6) – Cody Haskins – 204
7) – Quin Houff – 175
“While Alex held a considerable points lead for the most of the season, Dave was relentless in his efforts on and off the track,” said Roberts. “Both drivers faced some of the toughest competition out there on a weekly basis. In the end, it was the overall judging & bonus points that gave Alex the edge. They truly are both championship-caliber competitors.”
Prunty moved up to Super Late Models for the 2016 season and won races at Slinger Speedway and at Dells Raceway Park. He earned Rookie of the Year honors at Slinger and finished third in the track’s SLM division points for the year. He was lauded during the judging process for his off-track activities including starting the Alan Kulwicki Memorial Go-Kart Program for young racers and constantly spreading the Kulwicki theme to schools, libraries and businesses in the area. He received national attention for the Alan Kulwicki memorial helmet he debuted at the Slinger Nationals and wore much of the season. He was a social media savant; constantly posting about his racing, his numerous off-track activities and the KDDP program in general. He shared a tremendous communication level with all the other drivers.
Farrington, the only driver to be a member of both KDDP classes, posted five wins and 18 top-five finishes during the competition, including his first career victories at his home track, Beech Ridge Motor Speedway. He carried the Kulwicki colors in a remarkable 38 races at 10 tracks in four states. Farrington received special accolades from the voting panel for his off-track activities that included starting the Dave Farrington Jr. Scholarship Fund given to a deserving high school student, visiting hospitals and contributing his time to numerous community activities. He ran several special color schemes during the season, featuring tributes to Kulwicki and Dennis Czarnyszka, a board member who passed away in June. He even changed his car number to “7” (Kulwicki’s number) for the final races of the season. Farrington also received praise for his social media activities during the year.
“Although the contest for the Kulwicki Cup ultimately came down to the battle between Alex and Dave, Michael Ostdiek and Jeremy Doss are to be commended for hanging in there and making the points situation interesting until the very end,” said Roberts. “Those two drivers both earned more on-track points than the others and their off-track activities were duly noted by the voters. Brandon Setzer came on strong at the end on and off the track. He was moving up in the standings and his community service work was impressive. Cody Haskins and Quin Houff both started strong in every aspect, but equipment failures and issues out of their control took their toll before the season ended.
“Alan would have been so proud of all of these racers,” said Roberts. “When you look back on the season, each of them certainly benefitted from our support and progressed in some unique fashion during the year. They were great representatives for the KDDP and we will forever appreciate their efforts. They are all special young competitors who have promising careers in racing if given the right opportunities.”
Prunty and the other six members of the 2016 KDDP class will be honored during the organization’s banquet set for Wednesday, Dec. 14 in the Speedway Club at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Highlighting the activities for the evening (which would have been Alan Kulwicki’s 62nd birthday) will be the presentation of the winner’s check for $54,439 and the special KDDP Kulwicki Cup Champion’s trophy to Prunty.