Jimmie Johnson was celebrated on Friday night for winning his record-tying seventh NASCAR Sprint Cup title, while Tony Stewart was seen off into retirement and Dale Earnhardt Jr told adoring fans he would be ready to race in 2017.
Johnson’s dramatic victory in the finale last month at Homestead moved him into a tie with Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt for the most series championships. Johnson was to make his speech last at the season-ending banquet at the Wynn Las Vegas.
NASCAR honoured Stewart, who retired after an 18-year career that included three series championships, with a video poking fun at his coarse language, weight and temper and with a surprise appearance by Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder.
Earnhardt Jr was voted most-popular driver by fans for a record 14th time despite missing the second half of the season following at least the fifth concussion of his career.
While not announcing the date or track, he intends to drive a test session this month, the final hurdle before he’ll be cleared to return.