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Awards handed out at Myers Brothers Luncheon

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series annual awards banquet in Las Vegas may not be until Friday night, but several awards were handed out on Thursday during the NMPA (National Motorsports Press Association) Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon at the Bellagio.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was revealed as the Sprint Cup Series' Most Popular Driver for the ninth-consecutive year.

Drs. Joe and Rose Mattioli of Pocono Raceway were awarded the NMPA Myers Brothers Award. The award goes to individuals who have made contributions to stock car racing. Other finalists of the award included the Wood brothers, Jeff Gordon, Sprint, Jimmie Johnson and Jack Roush.

"Dr. Joe and Dr. Rose Matioli represent the true heart and spirit of NASCAR," NMPA President Rea White said. "They always recognized that NASCAR was more about people than anything else. Their legacy in the sport goes far beyond the Pocono track they labored to build."

Michigan International Speedway was named the NASCAR Foundation Track of the Year.

Richard Childress received the Buddy Shuman Award. The award is given to an individual who has made a significant contribution to the growth of Sprint Cup Series racing.

"It's a great honor to receive the Buddy Shuman Award," Childress said. "To have my name associated with previous award winners, such as Richard Petty and Bill France Jr., who are heroes of my past, is very special."

Toyota received the NASCAR Marketing Achievement Award.

"Toyota is honored to receive the NASCAR Marketing Achievement Award," Toyota Vice President of Marketing Communications and Motorsports Ed Laukes said. "Our commitment to becoming a champion of the fans by providing the best fan experience possible has truly paid off. Our in-vehicle experiences and opt-in rates are more successful at NASCAR events than any other ride and drive deployment we execute all year."

Andy Lally was named Sunoco Rookie of the Year.

Matt Kenseth received the Growth Energy American Ethanol Green Flag Restart Award.

Tony Stewart was named Mobil 1 Driver of the Year, and received the O'Reilly Auto Parts Position Improvement Award. As the 2011 Sprint Cup Series champion, Stewart also received the Sunoco Diamond Performance Award and the Goodyear Tires Award. His sponsors Office Depot and Mobil 1 were honored as the championship sponsors, and his crew chief, Darian Grubb, was honored for being the champion crew chief.

Carl Edwards received the Coors Light Pole Award by winning three poles throughout the 2011 season. Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch and Greg Biffle also each grabbed three poles in 2011, but Edwards won the award by finishing higher in points that the other four.

"If I had known that there were so many drivers competing for this when I ran my lap at Homestead, I'm not sure I would have pulled it off," Edwards said. "It says a lot for the Ford engine and the cars my team gives me every weekend."

Bob Osborne, crew chief on the No. 99 car driven by Edwards, was named DirecTV Crew Chief of the Year. The No. 99 team also claimed the Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew Award. Roush Yates Engines, engine builder for the No. 99 car, took the Mahle Engine Builder of the Year Award.

"To grow up the son of an engine builder and get an award like this really means a lot to me," Roush Yeates Engines' Doug Yates said.

Alan Gustafson, crew chief for the No. 24 team and driver Jeff Gordon, was named the MOOG Chassis Part Problem Solver of the Year.

Kyle Busch won the Goodyear Gatorback belts and Hoses Fastest Lap Award.

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Photo of the 2011 Chase for the Sprint Cup drivers at the Myers Brothers Luncheon courtesy of NASCAR Media 2011ChampionsWeekMyersBrosTop12

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