Tony Stewart, driver of the NASCAR/Winston Cup Joe Gibbs/Home Depot No. 20 Pontiac, easily cruised to fourth quarter DRIVER OF THE YEAR Honors today. For Stewart, 29, winner of three races during the quarter, it was de ja vu, since he repeated...
Tony Stewart, driver of the NASCAR/Winston Cup Joe Gibbs/Home Depot No. 20 Pontiac, easily cruised to fourth quarter DRIVER OF THE YEAR Honors today.
For Stewart, 29, winner of three races during the quarter, it was de ja vu, since he repeated the honor he won last year with a like number of wins.
In winning quarterly honors for the most prestigious award in motorsports, Stewart gathered nine first place votes and 109 points in a vote of a 16-member motorsports panel and viewers of ESPN. That out-distanced second-place Bobby Labonte, Stewart's teammate and new NASCAR/Winston Cup champion.
Labonte had four first-place votes and 86 points after winning two races in his No. 18 Interstate Batteries Pontiac.
Third place in the final quarter voting went to CART Champion Gil de Ferran, who scored 49 points.
"It is an incredible honor to be selected to the elite group of quarterly winners of the DRIVER OF THE YEAR award for the second straight year, " Stewart said when informed of the award. "To be included in a prestigious group that includes Juan Montoya, Rusty Wallace and Mark Martin is quite a compliment.
endless dedicated hours to give me the best race cars and the most awesome support I could "I would like to dedicate this award to the entire Home Deport Racing team. My crew chief Greg Zipadelli, my crew and everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing has worked have. They are the reason we have won six races this year and again finished in the top ten in points.
"Thank you for the award. It is truly a privilege and an honor.
Quarterly voting for the DRIVER OF THE YEAR awards points on a basis of 9-6-4-3-2-1 for the top six drivers. Later this month a secret ballot will be taken to determine the overall DRIVER OF THE YEAR, who will be feted at a luncheon at the Le Cirque restaurant following the Winston Cup Awards.
Dale Jarrett is the defending DRIVER OF THE YEAR, while Mark Martin, Juan Montoya and Rusty Wallace won previous quarterly votes this season.
The DRIVER OF THE YEAR will be formally honored during the International Motorsports Hall of Fame inductions at Talladega in April.
NHRA Top Fuel drag racer Gary Scelzi finished fourth with one first-place vote and 40 points, while NHRA Funny Car competitor John Force, the 1996 DRIVER OF THE YEAR, gained two first-place nods and 36 points.
World of Outlaws Steve Kinser rounded out the top six, getting the other first place vote and 23 points.
Craftsman Truck star Kurt Busch had 13 points, NASCAR Pro Stock drag racer Jeg Coughlin and Winston Cup's Jeff Burton each 12 points, while former two-time ('87, '94) DRIVER OF THE YEAR Dale Earnhardt and Busch Series Champion Jeff Green each had 10 points.
Others receiving points included IRL Indy Car Champion Buddy Lazier, 6; Jay Drake 4 and WoO's Mark Kinser; CART's Juan Montoya and American LeMans Series Allan McNish, 3.
Others mentioned included IRL's Scott Goodyear and WoO's Sammy Swindell, 2 each, and Jimmy Vasser and Tracy Hines, 1 each.