NASCAR Daytona Notebook: Squier-Hall Award For NASCAR Media Excellence To Steve Byrnes

(NASCAR Wire Service)

Jeff Olson ~ NASCAR Wire Service

Steve Byrnes (Photo: Fox Sports)

Steve Byrnes (Photo: Fox Sports)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – NASCAR posthumously honored Steve Byrnes by awarding him the Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence on Saturday.

Byrnes, who died of cancer April 21 at the age of 56, will be honored during the induction ceremony Jan. 22 at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte.

“He had such respect from everyone in the garage because of the way he conducted himself,” said Winston Kelley, executive director of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. “He was reporting the story, but he knew he wasn’t the story. He’s one of the few people I never heard anything bad said about. That’s difficult in an industry like this.”

Byrnes covered NASCAR races for FOX, working most recently as the play-by-play announcer for NASCAR Camping World Series telecasts on Fox Sports 1. He also worked as a pit reporter for FOX telecasts of NASCAR Sprint Cup races from 2001 to 2014.

“For three decades, Steve’s hard work and humanity brought NASCAR fans closer to their favorite drivers,” NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France said in a statement. “His passion for the stories and people he covered was always reflected in his work. Steve was respected for his professionalism and adored for his easy demeanor.”

The award is named for Ken Squier, the former commentator for CBS telecasts, and Barney Hall, the former voice of MRN broadcasts. Previous winners are Squier, Hall, Chris Economaki and Tom Higgins.

Big One in practice still on drivers’ minds a day later

The nine-car crash Friday during practice for Sunday’s Coke Zero 400 presented by Coca-Cola (Pre-Race: 7 p.m. ET on NBC | Race: 7:45 p.m. ET on NBC) forced several teams to use backup cars and remained a topic of conversation before Saturday’s qualifying session.

Eight of the nine drivers involved in the crash went to backup cars, including some who sustained only minor damage.

“The cars are so sensitive, (crew chief) Matt (McCall) just thought it was going to be better to go to a backup car,” said Jamie McMurray, whose No. 1 Chevrolet was hit from behind after Brad Keselowski tapped Kyle Busch’s car and sent it spinning during the first nine minutes of practice.

The drivers returned for the second practice session Friday, including Busch, who is racing at Daytona for the first time since his right leg was broken during a crash Feb. 21 that kept him out of racing for two months.

McMurray said he didn’t expect the backup car to be a problem in Sunday’s race.

“It’s way harder for the team than it is the drivers,” McMurray said. “The year we won the 500, we were in our third car, I believe. … It wasn’t that great of a car, and we were still able to win with it. So, I’m not really frustrated. It’s just part of plate racing and hopefully it happened today and doesn’t happen in the race.”

Larson bypasses XFINITY race to concentrate on Coke Zero 400

Kyle Larson decided to forego the NASCAR XFINITY Series race Saturday at Daytona to focus on Sunday’s Coke Zero 400..

“The XFINITY cars and the Cup cars don’t race anything alike, I don’t think, on superspeedways,” Larson said. “The style of racing is not my favorite.”

Larson, who is 18th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings and needs to win a race to secure a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, went airborne in a ferocious crash during an XFINITY Series race at Daytona in 2013.

“I’ve been across the front stretch with all four wheels off the ground before, so I don’t really want to risk anything again,” he said. “I don’t know. I just don’t like this style of racing, so I don’t need to risk anything.”

1-in-43 shot of winning or wrecking

Richard Petty won the summer race at Daytona three times; he won the Daytona 500 seven times.

Why the discrepancy? He doesn’t have an answer.

“I didn’t have good luck in the 400,” he said. “I even run good in the 500 stuff, (but) to back it up was really tough for me. I don’t know. Basically, I’ve done better in the summer months than the winter months than all the other drivers, but I couldn’t get it done here.”

One of his drivers – Aric Almirola – won the Coke Zero 400 last year to qualify for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Almirola and Richard Petty Motorsports teammate Sam Hornish Jr. need to win to qualify for the playoff format.

“I feel good about it,” Almirola said. “Every time you come to Daytona and Talladega, you feel you have a 1-in-43 shot of winning and a 1-in-43 shot of ending upside down. It can go either way. That is how this racing goes.”


  1. Chris D. says

    NASCAR is such a joke sometimes. Trying to start a 3 hour cup race after 11pm on a Sunday night. They were stupid for scheduling the race for Sunday night with such a quick turnover for Kentucky, real good deal for the fans, media and track employees.

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