One of America's most-beloved sports, NASCAR, will begin in just a couple weeks, kicking off with The Sprint Unlimited on February 16, followed by the epic Daytona 500 on February 24. While we can't wait to sit back, crack a beer and show some crack (ya know, really get into the vibe), we're sure the upcoming racers are a little less relaxed. Here's a look at some of the awards that will be presented throughout this year's NASCAR season.
NASCAR Most Popular Driver Award
This annual award, presented by the National Motorsports Press Association, is given to the fans' favorite NASCAR driver in the Sprint Cup Series, Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series. It's been around since 1956, and started as a poll of all drivers within the association. Today, fans across the U.S. are able to vote. And who have the people spoken for? Well, the winner of the most awards is Bill Elliott with a whopping 16 titles! Must be a really nice guy...
NASCAR Rookie of the Year
This award is presented to the first-year driver with the best season in NASCAR. It began as an unofficial award in 1954, but served as precedent for the type of skills a rookie should have. The most recent winner of the award – which is actually kind of complicated and has a bunch of rules & regulations – is Austin Dillon, a 22-year-old racer from Lewisville, NC.
Harley J. Early Trophy
This trophy is presented to the winner of the Daytona 500, the association's most popular and prolific achievement. The race takes place at the beginning of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, which makes it super unique compared to other sports. So who is this Harley J. Early fellow? Well, he is the influential automobile designer who served as the second commissioner of NASCAR back in the day. Because the trophy is so large, winners must take home a smaller replica for the display case. Still, I'd say it's pretty impressive.
Budweiser Pole Award
Everybody knows that driving cars and drinking Budweiser is a great combination. Wait, what? Just kidding! The "Bud Pole" award was given to the fastest qualifier in each NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, and each winner is automatically entered into the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona, just a week before the Daytona 500. In 2008, the Bud Pole Award was replaced by the Coors Light Pole Award when it became the official beer of NASCAR.