Earnhardt Jr., Gordon win NASCAR awards
BY JENNA FRYER AP Auto Racing Writer
Friday, November 30, 2012
11/30/12 at 5:34 AM
LAS VEGAS (AP) - It was an emotional night for Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon as they accepted awards from NASCAR at the Myers Brothers Luncheon at The Encore at Wynn.
Earnhardt tied Bill Elliott's record of 10 consecutive wins as NASCAR's most popular driver, and Gordon was honored as winner of the prestigious Myers Brothers Award for outstanding contributions to NASCAR.
Earnhardt was just as nervous accepting the award Thursday as he was when he received his first honor.
"It's real hard to get up there and express your emotions and express to people how much it means to you," Earnhardt said. "When you win it repeatedly, it gets tougher to show people and tell people how much it means to you because each time you win it, it means a little bit more. ..."
The award is presented annually by the National Motorsports Press Association, and Earnhardt has won it every year since 2003.
Fans vote from February through September on 10 most popular drivers. The field was then reset and fans voted again through the final 10 weeks of the season.
More than 934,000 votes were cast and Earnhardt beat Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne and Tony Stewart.
Gordon, a four-time NASCAR champion, was nearly brought to tears for his surprise honor.
The recipient of the award given annually since 1958 is not typically given advance notice. It is awarded in honor of former NASCAR competitors Billy and Bobby Myers.
"Wow. Oh, boy. This is a surprise," said Gordon, who had to stop during his acceptance speech several times to compose himself. "Couldn't somebody have warned me a little bit? Oh my goodness. This is an incredible honor. I've been coming to the banquet for the last 20 years, maybe 19, I guess. I've seen this award go to legends of our sport, those who make a mark and are recognized for their contribution.
"I'm deeply honored, proud of the work I do on and off the track and this is fantastic."
Gordon has 87 career wins and four titles, but his off-track contri-butions include the Jeff Gordon Foundation that has been helping children battling cancer since 1999. The foundation supports the Jeff Gordon's Children's Hospital in Concord, N.C., and has committed to help children fight cancer in Africa.
He's also teamed with sponsor AARP's Drive to End Hunger.