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Corey LaJoie wins fourth quarter NMPA Pocono Spirit Award

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Corey LaJoie‘s efforts to raise money for a shoe charity has resulted in him being named the fourth quarter winner of the National Motorsports Press Association’s Pocono Spirit Award.

In August, the Cup Series driver gave up a month’s salary from Go Fas Racing so the charity Samaritan’s Feet could be placed on his No. 32 Ford for the Aug. 4 race at Watkins Glen International.

LaJoie raised more than $100,000 for the organization, which was founded in 2003 to provide shoes to children and individuals in need.

Signatures on the car of Corey LaJoie of people who donated to Samaritan’s Feet. (Photo: Dustin Long)

The money was raised through LaJoie’s Hope Givers page, with the names of each donor being written on LaJoie’s car.

The NMPA Pocono Spirit Award is designed to recognize character and achievement in the face of adversity, sportsmanship and contributions to motorsports. The NMPA membership selects quarterly recipients as well as an overall winner each year. The award is sponsored by Pocono Raceway and has been presented annually since 1992.

Ryan Blaney was the first quarter winner, Austin and Ty Dillon were the second quarter winners, and Kurt Busch was the third quarter winner.

The overall winner of the NMPA Pocono Spirit Award will be presented Feb. 1, 2020 at the NMPA Awards Ceremony.

Ryan Blaney Foundation recognized as first quarter NMPA Spirit Award winner

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The Ryan Blaney Foundation has been named the winner of the First Quarter National Motorsports Press Association’s Pocono Spirit Award.

Blaney, who competes for Team Penske in the Cup Series, is being recognized for commissioning Gateway Bronco in Hamel, Illinois, to build a one-of-a-kind 1974 Ford Bronco that will be sold at Barrett-Jackson’s 2020 Scottsdale Auction to support the Alzheimer’s Association.

The NMPA Pocono Spirit Award is designed to recognize character and achievement in the face of adversity, sportsmanship and contributions to motorsports.

“June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, and I’ll be joining the Alzheimer’s Association in honoring my grandfather, Lou Blaney, who I lost to the disease,” Blaney said in a media release. “We want to encourage NASCAR fans to raise awareness for the disease by sharing their stories and who they are honoring during the month on social media using the hashtag #ENDALZ and tagging the Alzheimer’s Association.”

Other nominees receiving votes for the first quarter award were:

Chase Elliott‘s DESI9N TO DRIVE Auction where drivers wore special shoes in Cup series competition at Atlanta Motor Speedway designed by patients of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

— The Menard Family Foundation, which seek to enhance lives through medicine and medical research, education, music and the arts and also directs service to the poor and underserved.

Martin Truex Jr., Sherry Pollex receive National Motorsports Press Association Spirit Award

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Furniture Row Racing driver Martin Truex Jr. and long-time girlfriend Sherry Pollex have been voted the third quarter winners of the National Motorsports Press Association’s Pocono Spirit Award.

The Spirit Award recognizes character and achievement in the face of adversity, sportsmanship and contributions to motorsports.

The couple was nominated for their “Drive for Teal & Gold” campaign to raise awareness and funds for ovarian and childhood cancer. They received 45 percent of the vote. Also receiving votes were the NASCAR Foundation, Joey Logano and nominated as a group were Hendrick Motorsports drivers Jimmie Johnson, Chase Elliott, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne.

In its second year, Truex and Pollex’s campaign included 29 NASCAR drivers participating by using custom teal and gold steering wheels produced by Max Papis Innovations (MPI) and driving gloves. The autographed steering wheels and gloves were auctioned off at the end of September.

Pollex was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2014 and was in remission by early 2016. But she underwent a procedure for a recurrence last July. Pollex was not present for Truex’s win at Charlotte Motor Speedway two weeks ago as she recovered from a chemotherapy session.

Artist Sam Bass and The Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America won the Spirit Award earlier this year.

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NMPA names Jimmie Johnson Driver of the Year among annual awards

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Jimmie Johnson was named the Richard Petty Driver of the Year on Saturday by the National Motorsports Press Association as part of its annual awards banquet.

It’s the seventh time that Johnson – who was named on 62 percent of the ballots cast – has been recognized with the award. He previously won it in 2004, ’06, ’07, ’09, ’10, and ’13.

The award comes after Johnson became the third driver to win a seventh championship in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

The NMPA also named Al Pearce of Autoweek as its annual Pocono Spirit Award winner.

The award, sponsored by Pocono Raceway, “recognizes character and achievement in the face of adversity,
sportsmanship and contributions to motorsports.”

Pearce won for a four-year project that raised $13,000 through the auction of a racing helmet signed by the 20 living World Driving Champions and Phil Hill and Sir Jack Brabham prior their passing. Proceeds from the project went to the Victory Junction Gang Camp, the Kyle Petty Charity Ride, the Jimmie Johnson Foundation and the Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation.

Dave Ferroni, the public relations representative for Furniture Row Racing,  was awarded the Ken Patterson Helping Others Award.

Involved in auto racing for more than 30 years, Ferroni was the publicist for the “Miracle on Ice” U.S. hockey team in 1980 before later serving working for Brainerd International Raceway and the National Hot Rod Association. His company, DMF Communications, has also worked with U.S. Army, Miller Brewing Co., Pennzoil, McDonald’s and Valvoline.

The Ken Patterson award is sponsored by Talladega Superspeedway, where Patterson served as the public relations director, and has been given out since 2004. The track will donate $1,000 in Ferroni’s name to the Kenneth Patterson Educational Trust Fund.

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Mike and Angie Skinner selected as fourth quarter Spirit Award winners

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The National Motorsports Press Association has announced Mike Skinner and his wife, Angie, as the winners of the fourth quarter Pocono Spirit Award.

The Spirit Award “recognizes character and achievement in the face of adversity, sportsmanship and contributions to motorsports.”

The former Camping World Truck Series champion was chosen for his annual benefit, the Skinner Roundup.

The event raises funds to support Hope For The Warriors, a nonprofit dedicated to restoring a sense of self, family and hope for service members, veterans and military families. This years’ event raised $220,000.

Also on the ballot for the fourth quarter were NASCAR drivers Joey Gase, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson and former drivers Darrell and Michael Waltrip.

The previous quarter winners of the award this year were NASCAR spotter Chris Osborne, artist Jeanne Barnes and journalist Al Pearce.

The overall Spirit Award for 2016 will be announced in January.