NASCAR champions from coast to coast are busy with a week of activities at the hub of stock-car racing, leading up to a special two-night end-of-year celebration in the Concord (N.C.) Convention Center.
The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards Banquet, which honors champions from across North America in the series that is NASCAR’s grassroots foundation, will be Friday night. The inaugural Night of Champions Touring Awards Gala, which brings together the top drivers and car owners from NASCAR’s top developmental series, will be held on Saturday night.
Taking part in the inaugural Champions Week in the Charlotte, N.C., area are Jason Bowles (Camping World Series West), George Brunnhoelzl III (Whelen Southern Modified Tour), Donny Lia (Whelen Modified Tour), Philip Morris (Whelen All-American Series), Andrew Ranger (Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1) and Ryan Truex (Camping World Series East).
“Champions Week has been awesome. NASCAR has really taken care of us and made us all feel like champions,” said Brunnhoelzl, a first-time NASCAR champion. “I really can’t thank them enough for this special event.”
Although a golf tournament scheduled for Wednesday was cancelled, due to wet weather – the champions were still on the go. Some drivers opted for a tour of the Childress Vineyard, while others were taking advantage of special media opportunities in the area.
“It was really great to visit Childress Wineries,” Ranger said of Wednesday’s activity. “I was able to take my girlfriend along and Richard Childress was there. It was a special afternoon.”
The evening’s schedule includes a VIP Reception at the NASCAR Research & Development Center in Concord.
Championship week got into full swing on Tuesday with a full day of media activities – which included the Second Annual NASCAR Toyota Champions/Media Go-Kart Showdown presented by Sirius XM Radio, a visit to the MRN and PRN radio studios and a photo shoot at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, which is under construction and slated to open in May of 2010.
“It’s something special, and I’m very happy to be a part of the NASCAR family,” Ranger said. “We did the media tour and karting, which was a great activity. I’m very proud to be here.”
Tuesday was capped off with a Series Champions’ Dinner at the Sam Bass Gallery in Concord, in which NASCAR President Mike Helton presented each of the drivers with a personalized championship helmet to commemorate their 2009 title. Bass gave the champions a special tour of his gallery and shared many stories with them.
The rest of the week’s activities are scheduled to include the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series State Champions Dinner on Thursday and the Driver Briefings Friday morning.
The week culminates with the two award ceremonies. The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards Banquet will take place Friday evening at the Concord Convention Center with track and state champions to be honored along with Morris, the national champion. The NASCAR Touring Series Awards Gala, which will honor the championship seasons of Bowles, Brunnhoelzl, Lia, Ranger and Truex, will be held at the same venue on Saturday evening. Both banquets will be streamed live online at www.nascarhometracks.com