INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2001 - Indy Racing drivers are in the running for two prestigious year-end motorsports awards. 2001 Indy Racing champion Sam Hornish Jr. was nominated for RPM.ESPN.com's Driver of the Year honors. The winner is chosen by a select panel of motorsports journalists and online voting by RPM.ESPN.com users. Hornish is competing against nine drivers from the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, NASCAR Busch Series, NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, CART and NHRA.
Hornish, Scott Sharp and Buddy Lazier are eligible for the Auto Racing All-American team, which is selected by 300 media members and administered by the Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association. The Indy Racing League competitors are in the open-wheel category of the ballot along with three CART drivers. Other categories, which each include six drivers, are: stock car, road racing, drag racing, short track and at large.
Hornish earned his nomination with one of the most impressive seasons in any series. And he did it at 22 years old.
Second-year Indy Racing driver Hornish, from Defiance, Ohio, started the season with two consecutive victories and never relinquished the points lead. Hornish then showed amazing consistency throughout the year, finishing in the top three 10 times and leading 765 laps.
At the season finale, Hornish beat Sharp and Robbie Buhl in the closest race in Indy Racing history. The third victory capped a near-flawless season - he finished 2,643 of 2,650 laps -- and allowed Hornish to take home the Northern Light Cup and the title of youngest driver to win a professional American open-wheel championship in the modern era.
2000 Indy Racing champion Lazier spent all season trying to capture the coveted back-to-back title. Although he fell short of the feat, his league-record four wins in five races during the summer make him a strong contender for any honor. 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner Lazier, from Vail, Colo., posted five top-three finishes and led the most laps in a single race in league history with 224 at Richmond, Va.
Sharp earned one victory and three MBNA Poles, including the 2001 Indianapolis 500 pole. He finished third in the point standings after recording four top-three finishes and seven top-five finishes. Sharp, a native of Norwalk, Conn., started in the top three eight times.