Champion’s Week

Cup champion’s celebration painful to those who didn’t win title

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A year after being feted for his first NASCAR Cup title, Joey Logano returned to Champion’s Week with a different feeling.

“These banquets aren’t really the same after you’ve won it and you know what it’s like to see your car plastered everywhere and your team and everyone is having fun together,” Logano said. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad we’re in Nashville, there’s a lot of really cool things, but it really stinks for the competitor to come to the banquet because it’s just like another reminder that you got beat. That’s not much fun. I don’t really like that part.

“When you leave the banquet that night, you really wish you could race the next day because that’s about the most motivating thing you could do is go to a banquet that you didn’t win because all you want to do is change that. And you want to do it as quickly as possible but you’ve got to wait until Daytona to get going again.”

The sport celebrates Kyle Busch’s championship at 8 p.m. ET today on NBCSN. This marks the first year the NASCAR Awards Show has been in Nashville. Busch was a part of the WWE event in the city on Monday, was honored by the Nashville Predators before Tuesday’s NHL game and took part in the Burnouts on Broadway on Wednesday with many other playoff drivers.

While Busch basks in the celebration, teammate Martin Truex Jr. deals with the pain of finishing second in the championship for a second consecutive year. Logano passed Truex late to win last year’s championship. Truex’s title run this season was derailed, in part, by his crew putting the wrong tires on the wrong side of the car in last month’s championship race in Miami.

Had things gone a little differently, Truex could have won three consecutive championships, matching Cale Yarborough’s accomplishment from 1976-78.

“I’ll tell you when I get over it,” Truex said of the pain of finishing second again for the title. “It’s a  big deal. Work all year long to put yourself in that position. When it doesn’t turn out the way you hope, it’s tough.

“A lot of people put a lot of effort into it. It’s not something that goes away. It takes time. Honestly, I’m still sour about finishing second last year, too. Two years in a row finishing second hurts. you have to learn from it and move on, but you never forget it.”

Joey Logano honored to race against Jimmie Johnson (video)

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Joey Logano admits that he hates coming in second, but said if he could pick someone to lose to it would be Jimmie Johnson.

“I never got to race against Richard Petty or Dale Earnhardt, but I raced against Jimmie Johnson and that’s something I’m very proud of.”

Kyle Busch nails all the important points in Sprint Cup Awards speech (video)

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On top of thanking his sponsors and Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch made it a point to congratulate Monster Energy on becoming the lead sponsor of NASCAR’s premier racing series. 

NASCAR community surprises Tony Stewart with tribute during awards banquet

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Tony Stewart thought his short appearance early in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards meant he was done for the night.

Stewart had a brief interview on stage with NBC Sports reporter Marty Snider about finishing the year 15th in points. But NASCAR wasn’t finished with Stewart, who was participating in the banquet for the final time as a driver.

“I’m glad I didn’t start drinking after I made my deal because I thought I was done,” Stewart told the media backstage. “I’m totally blown away and caught off guard. I don’t even – I really don’t know what to say, to be honest.”

After 18 years, three championships and 49 wins, Stewart is now retired from Sprint Cup competition. In a video clip, Stewart’s fellow drivers reflected on his career before NASCAR vice chairman Mike Helton took the stage to introduce another video package. Then came a surprise for Stewart as his friend, and Pearl Jam member, Eddie Vedder appeared.

It didn’t end there.

As Stewart came to the stage, to give a speech he wasn’t prepared for, Rick Hendrick had an announcement to make. On Stewart’s behalf, the NASCAR community made a $1.8 million donation to the EB Research Partnership, which is the largest global non-profit dedicated to curing EB.

The non-profit was co-founded by Vedder. EB, Epidermolysis Bullosa, is a skin disorder and those with it lack the critical proteins that bind the layers of skin together. Without those proteins, the skin can tear apart, blister and sheer off, and lead to severe pain and disfigurement. EB can also affect the body internally by causing blisters in the eye, mouth, esophagus and fusing together fingers and toes.

Stewart met Vedder earlier this year and the two bonded over racing, their love of music, and their commitment to charity work.

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Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano among those to reflect on Tony Stewart’s career

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Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Chris Buescher, and Martin Truex Jr., among the NASCAR drivers to reflect on Tony Stewart‘s career.