It was a night of celebration and the culmination of a long season of racing for the Monster Energy Cup Series. Taking over Music City U.S.A. – Nashville – NASCAR crowned a champion and passed out the season ending awards.
Following in the footsteps of his Cup Champion and Hall of Fame father, Chase Elliott wins the fan voted Most Popular Driver Award. This is the second year in a row that the 24 year old driver for Hendrick Motorsports has taken home the award; an award his father Bill took home a record setting 16 times – 10 of those in consecutive years. Prior to Elliott’s first win in 2018, Dale Earnhardt Jr took home the series Most Popular Driver Award for 15 years in a row.
After the awards ceremony Chase Elliott spoke on the award saying, “just an honor, really, and just a big thank you to everybody who voted. Obviously it took a lot of votes to make it happen and everybody that took time to do that, I do really appreciate it. Like I said out there, too, it’s more than a trophy or a sticker or an award, really and truly. So I just really enjoyed this past season and just seeing all the people that were at the race track that wanted to see us do good. And you can genuinely feel that, and that goes a long way. So I appreciate it, and hopefully try to make everybody proud next year, too.”
Three time Cup Series Champion and Hall of Fame driver turned broadcaster Darrell Waltrip was presented with the National Motorsports Press Association’s Myers Brothers Award.
The award named for former NASCAR drivers Billy and Bobby Myers is presented to the person or group who have made significant contributions to the world of stock car racing.
Waltrip began racing go karts as a child and over the next 30 years won dozens of races including 84 in the Cup Series, was crowned champion three times, and was crowned Driver of the Year three times.Waltrip’s accolades also include winning the Most Popular Driver Award three times, Driver of the Decade for the 80’s, and has been named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers.
When Waltrip retired in 2000, Waltrip began working for FOX Sports as a race analyst and commentator.
In his acceptance speech Waltrip said, “I had no idea, this is a huge surprise.” Adding, “to tell you the truth, Stevie (his wife) and I almost didn’t come. That would have been really embarrassing. This is a thrill. What a thrill. I thought retirement, kind of, sucked. But maybe with these things before me, I will enjoy it a little more. I am really humbled for this award. I am really appreciative, thank you so much.”
For his contributions to the sport of NASCAR, Joe Gibbs Racing owner Joe Gibbs was presented with the Bill France Award of Excellence.
Drivers are not the only members of NASCAR who received awards during the gala event, Toyota Racing Development U.S.A. Dave Wilson received the award for the manufacturer’s championship.
The Project HOPE Foundation received the award, and $100,000 prize, for The NASCAR Foundation’s Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award. The HOPE Foundation provides help to the Autism community. The award is named after NASCAR Foundation founder Betty Jane France.
The Cup Series awards gala was held in the home of Country Music – Nashville – and had several of the city’s most notable residents on hand to perform and present award.
The night’s festivities culminated with the presentation of Cup Series Champion Award to Kyle Busch. This was the second championship for Busch who first won the crown four years ago after returning to the track after fracturing a foot and a leg in the opening race of the season in Daytona.
Busch won five races during the 2019 season and beat out team mates Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr; along with Stewart-Haas Racing driver Kevin Harvick, for the title.