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DIEZ: NASCAR passes out awards

Roger Diez
For the Nevada Appeal

This past week NASCAR descended on Las Vegas for the 2010 awards, and judging from recent reports on Sin City’s economy, they can use the revenue.

It’s the second year for NASCAR at Las Vegas after nearly 20 years of the awards ceremonies at the Waldorf Astoria in New York. In fact, Larry McReynolds said that you could fit the whole Waldorf Astoria into the Wynn’s ballroom.

Unfortunately, it appears that my invitation to the big banquet got lost in the mail, so I’ve been catching up on all the activities via Sirius/XM satellite radio. Thursday night Sirius/XM aired the fourth annual “Stewie” awards, a tongue in cheek brainchild of Tony Stewart. There was a bit of seriousness to the ceremony this year, as Stewart awarded the Lifetime Achievement Stewie to the late Jim Hunter, NASCAR’s former VP of communications. Hunter passed away in October, and his son accepted the award.

Chip Ganassi received the Feels Like the First Time Stewie for winning the Daytona 500, Indy 500, and Brickyard 400 as an owner this year. And the Golden Stewie went to Hal Needham, the famous movie stuntman and director who also raced in Cup and owned a team.

However, my favorite awards are the ones with a bit of Stewart’s sly humor in them, like the Bonehead Move of the Year award, given to Denny Hamlin for ramming his car into the wall during a victory burnout at Pocono. Another was the Best Vocal Performance Stewie, which went to Kevin Harvick for his post-race musings at Auto Club Speedway on the 48 team’s luck, including speculation about the “golden horseshoe up their ***”. And Kyle Busch was awarded the Best Drive to Crew Chatter Exchange for his profanity-laced commentary on his treatment by Jimmie Johnson at Martinsville. Others awards were the Best Original Drama for Clint Bowyer’s win and subsequent 150 point penalty at Loudon; Best Original Comedy for Joey Logano’s comments about DeLana Harvick wearing the fire suit in the family (DeLana accepted on Joey’s behalf); and the Boys Have At It award for the Carl Edwards/Brad Keselowski dustup at Atlanta that ended with Keselowski on his roof.

It’s good to know that there’s a humorous side to the serious business of racing.

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One of our local racers finished up his season Thanksgiving weekend at the Turkey Night Grand Prix at Toyota Speedway in Irwindale. J.R. Williams of Carson City is 75 and still going strong. Williams competed in 30 races this season, towing his USAC midget as far as Indianapolis, Lake Havasu, Salt Lake City, and numerous tracks in California. It was his best season since returning to racing in 2001, with a fourth place in the USAC Utah series and 10th in the USAC Western Pavement points. He also has a dirt car, and took a second and a fourth place at Chico, one of the closest tracks he races at. Like all good racers, Williams is in the midst of the off-season teardown and buildup of his race cars, and waiting not so patiently for the 2011 schedules to come out.

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