From Lonnie Wheatley
TUCSON, Ariz. (November 20, 2011) – With the closest National championship battle in the 20-year history of American Sprint Car Series competition winding down less than 24 hours earlier, another first occurred as the series held its 20th Annual ASCS Awards Banquet presented by Brodix at the Desert Diamond Casino in Tucson, AZ, on Sunday evening.
For the first time ever, the series recognized split driver and owner champions, as Shane Stewart took top driver honors and Jason Johnson’s JJR No. 41 team claimed owner championship honors.
With a dozen drivers and 11 owners meeting eligibility requirements, a total of $230,000 in point fund monies plus contingencies and other prizes were distributed to put the caps on the 2011 Lucas Oil ASCS presented by K&N Filters National season.
Bixby, OK, native Stewart collected his second driver’s championship in three seasons, edging Albuquerque’s Johnny Herrera by a miniscule one-point margin. The driver’s portion of the championship, a cool $30,000, could have changed hands with the difference of just one feature position at some point over the season, a position that would have been worth $15,000.
Stewart and car owner Paul Silva, who ranked second in owner points, collected a total of $45,000.
While Stewart took the driver’s title, the Jason Johnson Racing (JJR) No. 41 team took the $30,000 owner’s portion of the championship for the second year in a row. After missing the initial four events of the year due to Australian commitments, Johnson climbed back to seventh in driver points and collected the driver’s half of the $14,000 posted for seventh, bringing his points fund total to $37,000.
Falling just shy of the driver’s title, Herrera collected a total of $27,500 that included runner-up driver honors and third in owner points.
Brady Bacon and his Brady Bacon Racing team collected third in driver points and fourth in owner points, with Jeff Swindell and the Swindell Group fourth in driver points and fifth in owner points.
After opening the season with six nights aboard a Donnie Cooper mount, Gary Wright finished out the year in his own equipment and was fifth in driver points and eleventh in owner points.
Tim Crawley and car owner Mike Ward were sixth on both sides of the point charts, with other honorees during the evening including Tony Bruce, Jr. (eighth in driver points and seventh in owner points), Seth Bergman and Petersen Motorsports (ninth in driver points and eighth in owner points), Aaron Reutzel and Kenny Reutzel (tenth in driver points and ninth in owner points), Zach Chappell and Randy Washburn (eleventh in driver points and tenth in owner points) and Wayne Johnson (12th in driver points).
Ten drivers received awards for Perfect Attendance including Stewart, Herrera, Bacon, Swindell, Wright, Crawley, Bergman, Bruce, Jr., Reutzel and Chappell.
Stewart’s car owner and crew chief Paul Silva picked up the Brodix Lee Maier Crew Chief of the Year award for the second time.
Returning for his second tour of Lucas Oil National Sprint Car duty after taking in the full 2009 campaign, Seth Bergman picked up a set of Brodix heads by earning Most Improved honors.
Also picking up a set of Brodix heads was Aaron Reutzel, who earned Brodix Rookie of the Year honors.
Johnny Herrera was presented with the Lowest Average Draw award, while Gary Wright picked up the Highest Average Draw award. Wright also earned the Ronald Laney Hard Charger Award by accumulating the most passing points in heat race action during the 2011 season.
Herrera, taking in his first full season of Lucas Oil National Sprint Car competition, was also presented with the Sportsmanship Award during the evening.
California’s Mason Moore was named the Newcomer of the Year.
Additional information regarding the American Sprint Car Series is available at www.ascsracing.com.