– Good evening. You might never have met Dale Earnhardt Jr.. But you know him. We all do.
He was the freckled, blond-haired kid wearing the Goodwrench racing uniform that his hero made famous. He also was the party boy with the backwards hat. And then when tragedy struck, he was everyone’s first prayer each night. But with his victory in a 2001 return to Daytona, he became the messenger, letting the world know that everything was going to be all right.
After so many triumphs and heartbreaks, Dale was the honest everyman who spoke from the heart every time he opened his mouth. That’s why tonight we say thank you to a legend who gave us everything he had, and repay him with an honor from the soul of the sport, the NASCAR fans.
For most of his career, the fans have spoke loud and clear as to who their favorite driver has been. So please welcome the NMPA Most Popular Driver for the 15th and final time, our friend Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Pretty incredible. Thanks for all you’ve done for the sport, Dale.
To present Dale with another very special award, please welcome NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France.
– Well, good evening. And I do have a special award. Many of you know the Bill France Award of Excellence is not given out every year. It’s for the ultimate achievement and contribution to the sport they love, NASCAR. Sometimes it’s on the track. And sometimes it’s off the track. And every once in a while it’s both.
And tonight Dale Earnhardt Jr. is the recipient of the Bill France Award of Excellence. And he is very deserving. Thank you.