“This doesn’t even seem real,” said an emotional Earnhardt after receiving the honor at the 2014 NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon held at Wynn Las Vegas. “The truth is obviously I’m extremely humbled by this award, but I feel like I share it on so many levels – my sister Kelley (Earnhardt Miller) along with everyone at JR Motorsports is as deserving of this as anyone. I have a lot of passions with NASCAR, but I wouldn’t be able to know how to make them realities without all those folks.”
An accomplished driver, evidenced by his 23 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victories and two NASCAR Nationwide Series championships, Earnhardt was cited just as much for his achievements outside his No. 88 Chevrolet, namely as the owner of JR Motorsports and a tireless community benefactor.
This season, JR Motorsports driver Chase Elliott became the youngest competitor to win a NASCAR national series championship after clinching the 2014 NASCAR Nationwide Series title. The 18-year-old will likely join Brad Keselowski, Aric Almirola, Danica Patrick and Cole Whitt as Sprint Cup regulars who have developed under Earnhardt full-time at the Nationwide level.
In addition to his Nationwide Series program, Earnhardt contributes to racing at its grassroots levels, fielding Late Model or Street Stock cars since founding JR Motorsports. His Late Model drivers Josh Berry and William Byron finished first and second, respectively, this season in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series at Hickory Motor Speedway.
Earnhardt’s work extends off the track into the community. He has made 235 appearances on behalf of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, a number that ranks in the top five among professional athletes. Furthermore, his Dale Jr. Foundation raised $913,000 to be distributed to more than 70 different charities.
“I’m just as proud of what we’ve accomplished there as anything we’ve ever done on the race track,” Earnhardt said about his foundation.
The NMPA Myers Brothers Award has been presented annually since 1958 in the names of pioneer NASCAR competitors Billy and Bobby Myers and its winner is chosen by a vote of the National Motorsports Press Association. 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.
Seventeen other awards were given out at the luncheon, spanning from achievements in marketing, performance on the track and exemplary work in the garage. 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick garnered seven honors, including the 3M Lap Leader Award and Mobil 1 Driver of the Year.
Here is the complete list of Thursday’s award winners from the NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon:
- NMPA Myers Brothers Award: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
- Buddy Shuman Award: Bill Joyner, Sunoco’s Manager of Automotive Events
- NASCAR Marketing Achievement Award: Toyota
- 3M Lap Leader Award: Kevin Harvick
- American Ethanol Green Flag Restart Award: Kevin Harvick
- Coors Light Pole Award: Brad Keselowski
- Duralast Brakes “Brake in the Race” Award: Kevin Harvick
- Freescale “Wide Open” Award: Kevin Harvick
- Goodyear Tires Award: Kevin Harvick
- MAHLE Clevite Engine Builder of the Year Award: Billy Davis, Hendrick Engines No. 4 team
- Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew Award: Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 team
- Mobil 1 Driver of the Year Award: Kevin Harvick
- MOOG Steering & Suspension Problem Solver of the Year Award: Luke Lambert, crew chief No. 31 Richard Childress Racing team
- Sherwin-Williams Fastest Lap Award: Matt Kenseth
- Sunoco Diamond Performance Award: Kevin Harvick
- Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award: Kyle Larson
- Champion Sponsor Award: Budweiser
- Champion Crew Chief: Rodney Childers