It's time to get creative with the awards banquet
NASCAR's annual Sprint Cup awards banquet needs a little less teleprompter and a lot more drama. Terry Blount has five award categories that should be part of the show.
Updated: December 9, 2008, 3:04 PM ETBy Terry Blount | ESPN.com
The NASCAR Sprint Cup awards banquet is a little like a race that has no passes for the lead and ends under caution.It's still worth watching, but it's not exactly edge-of-your-seat excitement. NASCAR's annual postseason celebration in New York City is a week of lavish parties, expensive meals and several nights on the town at the hot spots in Manhattan.It all leads up to the awards ceremony this Friday night at the Waldorf-Astoria (9 p.m. ET, ESPN Classic). The top 10 drivers dress in their best duds, go on stage and proceed to bore us to tears with prepared speeches to thank myriad sponsors.It's like a high school graduation ceremony, but instead of one robotic speaker, we get 10 of them.Let's cure that problem and spice things up. What this show needs is a little drama. Make it NASCAR's version of the Academy Awards, with nominees for various categories sitting in the audience hoping to win. It's a great way to get NASCAR drivers and team officials included in the event if they didn't make the top 10.But we need a couple of exceptions to the Hollywood version.First, keep it under three hours. We already know who the top 10 drivers are. Let them come on stage, get their check, say a sentence of two and list their sponsors on a video screen behind them.Second, no boring awards no one cares about like Best Sound Editing or Best Foreign Language Documentary -- or, in this case, Best Race Setup or Best Inspection Team. Just a few fun awards to keep viewers intrigued.And skip the obvious ones. We know Jimmie Johnson is the best driver and Chad Knaus is the best crew chief. They get their moment at the end of the show.By the way, NASCAR does have one award that's announced at the banquet. One is not enough, but we greatly appreciate the effort. It's the Sprint Monster Moment. Here are the nominees:
- Carl Edwards bumps Kyle Busch at the Bristol night race to take the lead and the win.
- Greg Biffle makes a late-race pass at Dover to hold off teammates Matt Kenseth and Edwards to capture his second consecutive win, making him two-for-two in the Chase.
- Edwards' valiant wall-brushing, final-lap pass for the lead at Kansas before finishing second to Jimmie Johnson.
- Johnson's rapid climb from 12th to second place at Atlanta with just six laps to go in the November event.
- Edwards dominates the season-ending Ford 400 by leading the most laps and winning the race, but falls short of catching Johnson for the championship.
AP Photo/Glenn SmithIf you picked the No. 01 driven by Regan Smith as the winner at Talladega in October, you wouldn't be alone, but you wouldn't be correct, either.
- The Daytona 500
- The Dan Lowry 400 at Richmond International Raceway
- The Sharpie 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway
- The AMP Energy 500 at Talladega Superspeedway
AP Photo/Jim R.BoundsThe paint scheme on the No. 88 driven by Dale Earnhardt Jr. -- and partially designed by him -- gets the nod for 2008's best.
- No. 8 Army Chevrolet of Mark Martin and Aric Almirola
- No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet of Dale Earnhardt Jr.
- No. 26 Crown Royal Ford of Jamie McMurray
- Daytona International Speedway
- Richmond International Raceway
- Bristol Motor Speedway
Terry Blount covers motorsports for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.