Simplified, Pinette, Most Popular Driver Announcement Headline Year-End Ceremony
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Nov. 10, 2011) – Will Ricky Stenhouse Jr. enjoy a hero’s welcome? Or maybe Elliott Sadler storms back, stealing center stage – and the NASCAR Nationwide Series title – from the youngster. It seems likely Austin Dillon will wear the crown in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. But stranger things have happened, and a storybook comeback from talented Johnny Sauter or James Buescher shouldn’t qualify as all that strange.
Following what promises to be an historic Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, NASCAR will hold its annual NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Awards Banquet – a postseason tradition honoring the champions and award winners from two of NASCAR’s national series. The ceremony takes place at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel on Monday, Nov. 21 at 6 p.m., one final opportunity for the sport to celebrate its champions, and its fans.
SPEED’s Krista Voda and Rick Allen will host Monday’s banquet, with the band Simplified unleashing an opening to the show with a live performance. Comedian John Pinette returns to the ceremony, enlivening the festivities with his unique brand of self-deprecating humor.
That’s the known. Everything else will be decided in the coming weeks by the competitors – and the fans.
Voda and Allen will interview the top five drivers in each series, and even those participants are TBD. Jason Leffler, in sixth, currently trails fifth-place Reed Sorenson by 56 points (and third-place Justin Allgaier and fourth-place Aric Almirola by 61 points) in the NASCAR Nationwide Series standings. With two races remaining before the banquet, Leffler’s deficit is far from insurmountable.
In the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, sixth-place Todd Bodine trails fifth-place Timothy Peters by 21 points with only one race – the Ford 200 at Homestead – remaining. A two-time champion of Bodine’s pedigree should not be dismissed.
And as the chances for championship glory near an end, so too do the opportunities for fans to vote for their favorites in the NASCAR Nationwide and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Most Popular Driver polls.NASCAR.COM has housed on-line voting for both series since July 20. Voting closes on Thursday, Nov. 17 as the teams from each series close out the year at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
It’s not only each series’ driver championships that are in question as the season winds down. So too are their Most Popular Driver battles. To date, fans have cast nearly 180,000 total votes in both series.
Below – in alphabetical order – are each series top five vote-getters coming down the home stretch:
NASCAR Nationwide Series top five as of Oct. 31: Aric Almirola, Trevor Bayne, Elliott Sadler, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Kenny Wallace. (Vote here: www.nascar.com/nnsmpd)
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series top five as of Oct. 31: Todd Bodine, Ricky Carmichael, Austin Dillon, Ron Hornaday Jr. and Nelson Piquet Jr. (Vote here: www.nascar.com/ncwtsmpd)
Brad Keselowski won the last three NASCAR Nationwide Series awards while Johnny Benson (2008), Carmichael (2009) and Narain Karthikeyan (2010) have won in the NASCAR Camping World Trucks. This year, to be eligible to receive votes, drivers must have selected the NASCAR Nationwide or NASCAR Camping World Truck Series to receive 2011 driver championship points. Additionally, drivers must have attempted at least half of each series’ races this season.
The 2011 Most Popular Driver for each series will be announced at the combined awards banquet for each series on Nov. 21 at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel. SPEED will broadcast the banquet on Friday, Dec. 2 from 7-9 p.m. ET, which will lead into the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Ceremony at the Wynn Las Vegas.