Andy Cagle's NASCAR Awards Show
Last weekend, the NASCAR Cup boys got together in Las Vegas and doled out all of their awards and feel-goods and crowned themselves a five-time champion.
I hear it was on my television, but I hate awards shows and banquets and Rascal Flatts so I stuck with football and avoided listening to Jimmie Johnson talk about himself and the crowning of this year’s Raybestos Rookie of the Year (anyone? anyone?).
Since I didn’t tune in to the festivities, I can give you my unbiased, unfettered awards for the 2010 season. While these aren’t coming to you from fabulous Las Vegas — they are coming to you directly from my couch, again — and they come with absolutely no accolades, just shame, and absolutely no money, they are still as prestigious as the Rookie of the Year Award. And have about the same impact on your career.
The Jeremy Mayfield Award
This one has nothing to do with being (allegedly) meth-addled or having run-ins with stepmothers who may or may not have killed your father. This is the award that goes to the driver who had the most litigious season — lawsuits followed him everywhere he went — much like Mayfield’s 2009 campaign.
This year’s winner is Kevin Conway. Conway was the centerpiece of ExtenZe’s Motorsports efforts that kept coming up short in 2010. The not-so-dynamic duo of Conway and the “natural male enhancement” started the year with Front Row Motorsports.
The separation of Conway and ExtenZe from Front Row resulted in a lawsuit over non-payment of promised sponsorship dollars. Then it was on to Robby Gordon’s team for Conway and the purveyors of better loving through pharmaceuticals.
And now Gordon is suing ExtenZe for roughly $700K for unpaid sponsorship dollars.
So congratulations to Kevin Conway. I wish the award came with some money to help y’all with those legal fees.
Oh yeah, he was also the 2010 Raybestos Rookie of the Year.
The Michael Vick Award
This one has nothing to do with dog fighting or spending time in the federal penitentiary. It is the comeback driver of the year.
Much like Vick, this year’s winner of this award had very low expectations placed at his feet entering 2010, and while he didn’t make the Chase he had a heck of a year.
Of course the winner is Jamie McMurray. After being jettisoned from Roush-Fenway Racing so that team could get under NASCAR’s four-team cap, McMurray landed at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, where he won three races in 2010. Well, not just three races, three big races: the Daytona 500, the Brickyard 400 and the fall Charlotte race. Not bad for a castoff.
The “Yes, You Are Bold, But Are You Daring?” Award
I do love a bold move. This award goes to the driver or team that makes the boldest — dare I say daring — move of the year.
There were a lot of choices this year, but you have to really get to the one that had the greatest risk-reward associated with it, and there is no greater reward than winning a championship.
Therefore, this has to go to the No. 48 team, crew chief Chad Knaus and owner Rick Hendrick for sacking his entire crew during the race at Texas — the seventh race of the Chase — and replacing them with crew members from Jeff Gordon’s team.
The move was risky as hell that deep in the Chase, but in the end it proved to be the right move and the 48 won its fifth-straight championship.
The “Have At It Boys” Mantra Was a Bad Idea Award
I appreciate the intention when Robin Pemberton took the gloves off the drivers with those four little words. NASCAR fans had complained about the utter vanilla-ness of the sport over the last few years. But telling a bunch of guys in 3,500-pound stock cars to “have at it” is bound to be problematic. So the NASCAR-sanctioned beating and banging ensued.
Again, many things to pick from but the winner has to be the Carl Edwards-Brad Keselowski dust-up at Atlanta that ended up sending Brad airborne roof-first into the outside retaining wall. Great drama, but bad if your goal is to finish the day with all of your competitors alive.
The Quote of the Year
There were many memorable quotes from the 2010 season.
Who can forget Kevin Harvick’s “horseshoe” comments regarding Johnson or Joey Logano questioning who wore the fire suit in the Harvick family. But I had to go a bit deeper than that.
The quote of the year for 2010 has to go to Richard Childress after Denny Hamlin took shots at Clint Bowyer’s team after the team was penalized following their win at Loudon in September:
“You can’t win a pissing contest with a skunk.”
That’s comedy gold.
The Kyle Busch Acting Like a Baby Award.
For his body of work, it goes to: Kyle Busch. The highlight was the Martinsville rant on the radio against Johnson. It would make Richard Pryor and George Carlin proud.
The Ken Schrader/Andy Cagle Memorial/Honorary Driver of the Year
This award goes to the driver who betters their lot despite the fact that they haven’t sniffed victory lane in years and years, a la Ken Schrader.
This year, the nominations are a bit thin. I am going to blame it on the economy.
Elliott Sadler is up for consideration because he actually has a chance to win on the Nationwide Series side next year driving for Kevin Harvick. Bobby Labonte goes from the Nos. 71 and 09 to the No. 47 next year — upgrade(ish).
Bill Elliott says he will run full-time with the Wood Brothers next year if sponsorship can be found even though, despite being awesome, he doesn’t seem too interested in running up front. Ken Schrader-worthy all.
But they pale in comparison to Paul Menard, this year’s driver of the year. Menard did improve his actual performance this year under the Richard Petty Motorsports banner — finishing 23rd in the final points rundown, but six top-10s do not warrant moving to an organization that placed three drivers in the Chase this year.
But that’s where Menard finds himself in 2011. He will be piloting a fourth car for Richard Childress Racing. That beats the uncertainty that he went through at Petty this year.
God bless daddy’s money.
Contact Andy Cagle at email@example.com.
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