- Published on Wednesday, 05 December 2012 10:55
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Brad Keselowski was all smiles last Friday as he gathered with his Penske Racing family – tuxedo-clad – for the traditional NASCAR Sprint Cup championship photos. After a whirlwind of post-Homestead-Miami Speedway appearances stretching south to north, east to west and culminating with Champion’s Week in Las Vegas, the magnitude of what Keselowski, owner Roger Penske, crew chief Paul Wolfe and the entire Penske organization had accomplished was evident.
“I’ve enjoyed every second of my time in Vegas,” Keselowski said. “It was tough to really sit back and realize how special this opportunity is. Because of that, now I really want to come back next year and do it all again.
“The fans have been amazing this week. I can’t believe how many came out to celebrate this week with me. It’s special how passionate our fans are, and I’m proud to be a part of all of it for them.”
Wolfe especially enjoyed Tuesday’s tour of various Las Vegas landmarks such as the Welcome To Las Vegas sign, the set of Beatles LOVE at The Mirage and the House of Blues Foundation Room at Mandalay Bay. “There was a lot to take in. It seemed like we were non-stop on the go. I tried to take it all in and enjoy it,” said the championship crew chief.
The week’s highlights included the champion’s media tour, participation by all 12 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup qualifiers in Wednesday’s game-show style “Smarter Than A Fifth Grader” at the Fremont Street Experience and Thursday’s annual NASCAR/NMPA Myers Brothers Luncheon during which Keselowski received the Goodyear Tires and Sunoco Diamond Performance awards.
Thursday’s traditional Victory Lap, during which NASCAR Sprint Cup stock cars performed burnouts on the famed Las Vegas Boulevard, and the NASCAR After the Lap, sponsored by Ford and Coca-Cola, wrapped the lead-up to Friday night’s 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards, hosted by “America’s Got Talent” judge Howie Mandel at Wynn Las Vegas.
Shock and genuine surprise - that was Jeff Gordon’s emotional reaction to being named the 2012 recipient of the National Motorsports Press Association’s Myers Brothers Award during Thursday’s traditional NASCAR/NMPA Myers Brothers Award luncheon at the Encore in Las Vegas.
“Oh boy, this is a surprise. I’m having a hard time composing myself,” said Gordon, during the Champion’s Week event. “Couldn’t someone have warned me first?”
Named for NASCAR racing pioneers Billy and Bob Myers, the award recognizes individuals and groups which have provided outstanding contributions to the sport of stock car racing. Past recipients are a virtual who’s who of the industry – drivers, owners, track operators, sponsors and members of the media – and include nearly every current member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Gordon’s accomplishments are two-fold: his on-track success, which includes four NASCAR Sprint Cup championships and 87 victories; and his charitable activities when not competing.
“Off the track, he has raised countless funds for charity through his foundation for pediatric cancer research,” said Burt Myers, grandson of Billy Myers, upon presenting the award with brother Jason Myers to Gordon. “I am deeply honored, proud of the work that I do on and off the track,” said Gordon. “This is fantastic. Thank you.”
NASCAR Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer Brian France congratulated 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup champions Brad Keselowski and Roger Penske and the Miller Lite organization. France also commented on the youth movement in the NASCAR Nationwide and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and first-time events due to take place in both national series in 2013.
Also announced at Thursday’s luncheon was the NASCAR NMPA Most Popular Driver Award, given to Dale Earnhardt Jr. for the tenth consecutive year. This now ties him with Bill Elliott as the only other driver to be presented the award 10 straight years. Elliott, however, remains the all-time leader with 16 overall.