FORT WORTH, Tex. — Team Penske owner Roger Penske was inducted into the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame at a Thursday night dinner at Texas Motor Speedway.
Though Penske himself was unable to attend, his organization was well-represented. Penske Corporation Executive Vice President Walt Czarnecki accepted the induction.
Drivers Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano, crew chiefs Paul Wolfe and Todd Gordon and Director of Competition Travis Geisler all attended the dinner in support of their boss.
Penske wasn’t the only honoree. Dale Earnhardt Jr. earned the Major General Thomas Sadler Award for his generosity to children in North Texas. Earnhardt helped raise more than $30,000 for Speedway Children’s Charities last fall when he hosted the BBQ pit stop with Dale Jr. at Hard Eight BBQ in Roanoke, Texas.
“Any time it involves barbecue, you can count me in,” Earnhardt said of one of his favorite pastimes.
Earnhardt acknowledged that successful barbecue was an intricate process, “but if you drink too many beers, it’s easy to forget a couple of steps.”
Kyle Busch was named Texas Motor Speedway racer of the year for his sweep of the NASCAR Sprint Cup/NASCAR Nationwide Series weekend last spring. Norm Miller, chairman of longtime Joe Gibbs Racing sponsor Interstate Batteries, presented the award to Busch and, in the process, recalled a less festive time at TMS.
The first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas was the Interstate Batteries 500 in 1997. The winner? Jeff Burton, sponsored by rival Exide Batteries.
“That was the only race we ever sponsored,” Miller recalled. “And guess who had to present the trophy in Victory Lane? Moi!”
Also honored Thursday night were NNS driver James Buescher (Texas Motor Speedway sportsmanship award for his work with tornado victims in Moore, Okla.); and Dario Franchitti (O. Bruton Smith legend award for the four-time IndyCar Series champion, who has retired from competition for health reasons).