Column By: HOLLY CAIN / NASCAR – LAS VEGAS, NV – NASCAR drivers, team members, the sport’s national media and loyal fans are descending upon Las Vegas this week for the annual Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Awards and related end-of-year galas and activities.
Team Penske’s Joey Logano will formally receive the 2018 Monster Energy Series trophy he earned and enjoy days of proper feting. And the sport will celebrate a dramatic season and recognize some of its most impactful participants.
William Byron will receive the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award and Logano’s fellow Championship 4 contenders Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch will be recognized, as well as the entire 2018 16-driver Playoff field.
There will be a changing of the guard among the Most Popular Driver Award voted on by NASCAR fans with retired racer-turned-NBC broadcaster Dale Earnhardt Jr. ceremonially handing over the recognition after a 15-year run of trophies.
And the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award – named after the generous and charitable late founder and chairwoman of The NASCAR Foundation, who was also the wife of former NASCAR Chairman Bill France Jr. – will be announced Thursday evening during the awards show. It is perhaps the most impactful recognition of the weekend, recognizing a NASCAR fan who has made a difference in his or her community.
This year’s honorees include: Carl Dakes, of Maryland, who is an 18-year volunteer representing the Believe in Tomorrow Children’s Foundation that helps provide housing for critically ill children and their families.
Ohio’s Sarah Kersey is not only a cancer survivor herself, but is a longtime volunteer at the Flying Horse Farms in Mt. Gilead, Ohio. The camp provides “transformative” experiences for seriously ill children at no cost for their family.
Cliff Preston, of Gainesville, Florida, is nominated for his 25-years serving as a “cuddler” to comfort hospitalized newborns in the University of Florida Shands Hospital during the absence of the babies’ parents.
The final nominee is Rex Reynolds, of Alabama, a longtime supporter of the Boys & Girls Clubs of North Alabama. Reynolds grew up attending the Boys & Girls Club and has been a long-time volunteer there, including 13 years on the board of directors.
The awards show will be televised on NBCSN at 9 p.m. EST on Thursday, November 29, as well as on MRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio beginning at 8 p.m. EST.