LAS VEGAS — The career year for Martin Truex Jr. rolls on.
Truex and partner Sherry Pollex on Wednesday won the prestigious Myers Brothers Award — the top honour in NASCAR's season-ending awards celebration — for their charitable work. The award is presented by the National Motorsports Press Association and given as the final honour during a formal event that leads to Thursday night's champion celebration. Truex will be feted there for his first career Cup title, a presentation he is prepared for.
But winning the Myers Brothers Award was a shock to both Truex and Pollex, and both struggled to hold back tears as they received the honour.
"I didn't see this coming," Truex said.
"I didn't either, and I'm going to try not to cry," replied Pollex.
The award is named for NASCAR pioneers Billy and Bobby Myers and recognizes individuals and/or groups who have provided outstanding contributions to the sport of stock car racing. It has been presented annually since 1958.
The Martin Truex Jr. Foundation has raised funds for awareness on childhood and teenage cancer, even before Pollex was first diagnosed with ovarian cancer a little over three years ago. Pollex suffered a recurrence this year as Truex was putting together his championship season. The couple hosted their eighth annual Catwalk for a Cause, a charitable fashion show/benefit, this season and raised more than $500,000.
Truex didn't discuss his series-best eight victories this season, or the championship that came in his 12th season at NASCAR's top level. Instead, he touched on how pleased he and Pollex have been to assist those in need.
"I think Sherry and I have been very fortunate in our lives to have all the things we've needed," Truex said. "Great families, great parents that raised us right and taught us right from wrong. They probably deserve a lot of the credit for us being who we are and being able to give back to people."
Pollex's "Drive for Teal & Gold" campaign in September also raised funds and awareness for ovarian and childhood cancers.
"I'm so proud of her and her fight and her battle and what she's been able to pull through and get through, and at the same time, still willing to help others and give her time," said Truex. "We're humbled, we're very lucky to be here and we are very proud of this."
Truex was named on 82 per cent of the ballots cast for this year's award. Others receiving votes were team owner Jack Roush and seven-time Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson.
CREW CHIEF OF THE YEAR
Truex's crew chief, Cole Pearn, won the award after guiding Furniture Row Racing to its first title. The Canadian recalled initial reluctance to move to Denver to work for a single-car NASCAR operation, and the early struggles the team faced. He credited team owner Barney Visser, who has been unable to enjoy any of the championship celebrations as he recuperates in Colorado from a heart attack and surgery two weeks before the season ended.
"They came up with the ridiculous idea of starting a NASCAR team in Colorado, and I went out there on a complete whim eight years ago, and I can't believe we are champions," Pearn said. "At one point it seemed like a top 10 was not even a pipedream."
Erik Jones was named rookie of the year in the Cup Series, and he became the first driver in NASCAR history to earn top rookie honours in all three national series.
"It was an incredible learning year," said Jones, who spent the season as a new second car with Furniture Row Racing. Jones was a development driver for Joe Gibbs Racing, and that team is pulling him inside its camp next year as a replacement for Matt Kenseth. Jones' No. 77 Toyota is going away, and NASCAR champion Martin Truex Jr. will be a one-car team again next season. Jones had 14 top-10 finishes and was 19th in the final standings.
BUDDY SHUMAN AWARD
The award for contributions to NASCAR went to Bruton Smith, owner of Speedway Motorsports Inc. The award honours those who have played vital roles in the growth of professional stock car racing. Smith's contributions to NASCAR, through the race tracks he owns and the risks he took in promoting the series, were cited. But so was his commitment to Speedway Children's Charities, an organization that provides funding for nonprofits.
"I think raising $500 million for children's charities is a big one," Smith said when asked about his accomplishments.
XFINITY SERIES: MOST POPULAR
Elliott Sadler was named most popular in NASCAR's second-tier Xfinity Series for the second straight year. Sadler was also the top vote-getter in 2011 and 2016 and becomes only the third driver to win the award three times. The others were Brad Keselowski and Kenny Wallace. Sadler continues a six-year run for JR Motorsports drivers winning the award. He follows Chase Elliott, Regan Smith, Danica Patrick and Keselowski.
TRUCK SERIES: MOST POPULAR
Chase Briscoe was named most popular driver in NASCAR's Camping World Truck Series. Briscoe won his first national series race in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He finished sixth in the series standings and was also the series' top rookie. Briscoe was featured alongside Brad Keselowski Racing teammate Austin Cindric in an irreverent social media campaign to drum up balloting support. He becomes the third BKR driver to win the award in the last four years, following Tyler Reddick (2016) and Ryan Blaney (2014).
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