More than anything else—appropriately enough—Wednesday’s NASCAR Industry Awards Reception at Blake Shelton’s Ole Red was a celebration of the accomplishments of 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch and his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing team.
Busch won the Sunoco Diamond Performance Award as well as the coveted Goodyear Gold Car Award, presented annually to the champion of NASCAR’s top division.
Busch won his second title and joins seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson as the only other active multiple championship winner.
“It was just a matter of time,” opined Stu Grant, Goodyear’s general manager of global racing.
Adam Stevens of the No. 18 team was honored with the Champion Crew Chief Award, also his second.
“The Playoffs came, and we never took our eyes off the prize,” Stevens said.
In addition, the No. 18 JGR pit crew was recognized with the Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew Award, and Mars Inc. claimed the Champion Sponsor Award.
Chris Gabehart, crew chief for JGR teammate Denny Hamlin, earned the MOOG Problem Solver of the Year Crew Chief Award.
“My rookie year has just been phenomenal, with Joe Gibbs Racing, Denny and (sponsor) Fed-Ex,” said Gabehart, who guided Hamlin to six victories and a Championship 4 appearance this season.
Denis McGlynn, president and CEO of Dover Motorsports, received the prestigious Buddy Shuman Award, which recognizes individuals and organizations that have played vital roles in ensuring the continued growth and popularity of stock car racing.
Kevin Harvick, six times the top qualifier in 2019, took home the Busch Pole Award. His sponsor, Busch Beer, was honored with the Marketing Achievement Award.
“Having Busch beer, with everything they’ve done with our car and our program, is something you don’t see a lot of,” Harvick said. “It’s always fun to win your sponsor’s award, so it’s great to keep it in the family.”
“If you can get Kevin Harvick to drive a millennial car, eat avocado toast and wear plaid in the same year, you’ve got a pretty good marketing campaign,” added Jill Gregory, NASCAR executive vice president and chief marketing officer, in introducing the marketing award.
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year Daniel Hemric described his season-long battle against Ryan Preece as “a grind—and it wasn’t flashy. Neither one of us could put four or five straight weeks together.”
JGR driver Martin Truex Jr., who finished second to Busch in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, claimed the American Ethanol Green Flag Restart Award.
“To be able to make passes and moves on restarts is critical, and fortunately, we were able to make some good ones this year,” Truex said.