On Nov. 23, NASCAR held its annual joint awards banquet for the Camping World Truck and Xfinity Series at the Diplomat Resport and Spa in Hollywood, Fla. At the banquet, the sanctioning body recognized the championship driver and car owner from each series, in addition to the other top-five drivers in each series. Other awards were handed out, including those for Rookie of the Year and Most Popular Driver in each series.
Chris Buescher was honored as the 2015 champion in the Xfinity Series, while the No. 22 Team Penske Ford team was recognized as the winner of the owners’ championship. The No. 22 had a multi-driver line-up throughout the 2015 season that included Sprint Cup Series drivers Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano, as well as Ryan Blaney, who will embark on his first full season of Cup-level competition next year. For Buescher, the 2015 drivers’ championship was his first at a NASCAR national level. He claimed the title on the strength of a season that included two wins that were two of 11 top-fives and 20 top-10 finishes in the series’ 33 races.
“The coolest thing is just having so many different people come up and say congratulations and we’ve seen what you’ve done to work for this and it’s awesome to see you here,” Buescher said. “We’ve done so many things to try and get to this point, and to finally be here, it’s special. It’s very humbling.”
In the Truck Series, though, the same team produced the owners’ champion and the drivers’ champion. The No. 4 Kyle Busch Motorsports team won the owners’ title, while its driver, Erik Jones, claimed the drivers’ championship. Together, Jones and the No. 4 team made three trips to victory lane. They finished in the top-five 11 times and all but three of their finishes in the 23-race season were top-10s. Team owner, Kyle Busch, wasn’t in attendance at the banquet, as he was off tending to duties as the Sprint Cup Series drivers’ champion for 2015.
“I wish Kyle would’ve been there to see his creation come to life, I guess you’d say. I think he had a good excuse to miss it, but that was funny. That’s definitely a Kyle thing he would do, especially to me,” Jones joked at the banquet.
Championship honors weren’t the only honors bestowed on Jones. As the Truck Series champion in his first full year of competition, he was a shoe-in for Rookie of the Year honors, too. Daniel Suarez was named Xfinity Series Rookie of the Year. Suarez finished in the top-five eight times and posted 18 top-10 finishes in his first full season in the series.
Drivers recognized for finishing second through fifth in the year-ending Camping World Truck Series points standings were Tyler Reddick, two-time champion Matt Crafton, Johnny Sauter in Timothy Peters. Finishing second through fifth in the Xfinity Series were 2014 champion Chase Elliott, Ty Dillon, Regan Smith and Suarez.
Two drivers following in the footsteps of their fathers took Most Popular honors. Elliott was named Most Popular Driver for the Xfinity Series. His father, Bill Elliott, was named Most Popular at the Cup level a record 16 times. Most Popular Driver in the Truck Series was John Hunter Nemechek, son of Xfinity and Sprint Cup veteran racer, Joe Nemechek. Nemechek competed in 18 of the 23 races that made up the 2015 season. At the start of the year, he had yet to reach the age of 18, the minimum age requirement to race at all tracks on the schedule. He went full-time after turning 18. Prior to that, he shared his seat with his father.