CONCORD, N.C. — Fresh off his third NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title, Tony Stewart was honored with his third National Motorsports Press Association Driver of the Year award on Sunday.
Stewart, whose other driver of the year awards were for Cup Series championship seasons of 2002 and 2005, wasn’t at the Concord Convention Center due to a scheduling conflict.
He did, however, release a statement which was read by PRN radio anchor Doug Rice.
“It’s an honor to earn the NMPA Driver of the Year award,” said Stewart, who led the series with five wins, all in the Chase. “Everyone at Stewart-Haas Racing has taken the opportunity of being in the Chase seriously and has made the most of it.”
The 10-race playoff was a huge turnaround for Stewart, who went winless throughout the 26-race regular season and made the Chase as a No. 9 seed. However, the driver of the No. 14 Chevrolet opened the Chase with wins at Chicago and Loudon and at the end of the season rallied from behind to tie Carl Edwards in the final point standings.
The 40-year-old Stewart ended the 2011 season with wins in three of the last five races -- Martinsville, Texas and the season finale at Homestead.
Also receiving votes were: Edwards, Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch. Jimmie Johnson won the award four of the last five seasons. Edwards was the driver of the year for 2008.
Since the award was first given out in 1969, Stewart became just the sixth driver to win the honor at least three times. Dale Earnhardt and Jimmie Johnson top the list with four awards, while Stewart joined Bobby Allison, Darrell Waltrip and Cale Yarborough as three-time winners.
“The guys on the team never quit,” Stewart said. “This award is as much theirs as it is mine.”
The driver of the year ceremony was part of the NMPA annual convention and Sunday’s Goody’s luncheon.
During the luncheon, representatives from GlaxoSmithKline showed off new clips from its commercial campaign featuring seven-time NASCAR champion Richard Petty and country music star Trace Adkins.
Proceeds from Petty’s promotion with the Goody’s brand goes to support the Victory Junction Gang camp for severely ill children. Those from Adkins’ involvement with BC powders raises money for the Wounded Warrior Project to help injured soldiers.
The 30th annual NASCAR Sprint Media Tour, presented by Charlotte Motor Speedway, official starts today with more than 230 motorsports journalists from around the globe participating in the four-day event.
What started as a 1983 “experiment” with a handful of media, the tour has evolved into the nation’s premier preseason media event in professional sports.
The concept came from the now defunct Atlantic Coast Conference media tour, where journalists were bused to different campuses before the start of football season.
Visits with Stewart-Haas Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing are scheduled today.
Carter Davison, a first grader at Providence Academy, won the Tennessee Karting Series state championship back in November.
Davison, 7, had four poles and five wins in the series which averages speeds in excess of 45 mph. He will be the youngest driver in the Champ Kart division this upcoming season at Beechnut Raceway.