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Two NASCAR champions crowned Monday night

- jutter@charlotteobserver.com
Monday, Nov. 19, 2012

Four of NASCAR’s brightest young stars occupied the spotlight Monday night as champions in two national series were crowned. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 25, and James Buescher, 22, officially were proclaimed champions of the NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, respectively, on the Americana Ballroom stage at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel.

Stenhouse was honored for becoming just the sixth competitor in series history to win consecutive Nationwide titles. Buescher becomes the second-youngest champion in the Truck Series’ 18-year history. Stenhouse won six times during the 2011 season while Buescher’s four victories were most in the Truck Series.

Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 18 Toyota Camry won the Nationwide Series owners championship, with Joey Logano winning seven times in the car. The title is JGR’s fourth in the last five seasons matching Richard Childress Racing for most in the series. Its last came in 2010.

Turner Motorsports won its first Truck Series Owner Championship. Texan Steve Turner’s No. 31 Chevrolet Silverado, with Buescher behind the wheel, won the title in the organization’s fifth season in the series. Austin Dillon, 22, won Nationwide Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors. Dillon is the third competitor to win rookie championships in both Nationwide and Truck series. Ty Dillon, 20, won the Truck Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award. The Dillon brothers are the first siblings to capture NCWTS freshman titles. Elliott Sadler, Austin Dillon, Sam Hornish Jr. and Michael Annett finished second through fifth in the championship standings and were honored along with Stenhouse in the Nationwide Series.

Timothy Peters, Joey Coulter, Ty Dillon and Parker Kligerman were second through fifth in the Truck Series final points and joined Buescher on stage.

After a fan vote on NASCAR.com in which nearly 120,000 combined votes were cast, each series’ Most Popular Driver was revealed. Danica Patrick and Nelson Piquet Jr. were chosen by fans in the Nationwide and Truck series, respectively. Each was honored for the first time.

Utter: 704-358-5113

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