Indy Racing League Notebook
Dixon nominated for Driver of the Year; IRL drivers nominated for awards
INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2003 -- Reigning IRL IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon is one of eight drivers nominated for the 2004 Speed Channel Driver of the Year Award.
Dixon, driver of the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone, won the 2003 IndyCar Series Championship, 507-489, over Gil de Ferran. Dixon led series in wins (3); MBNA Poles (5); races led (14) and laps led (748).
Dixon became just the third driver to win in his IndyCar Series debut when he won the Toyota Indy 300 March 2 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He then went on to win the Honda Indy 225 June 15 at Pikes Peak International Raceway.
However, his biggest victory may have come when he turned in one of the most dominating performances in IndyCar Series history when he won the SunTrust Indy Challenge June 27 at Richmond International Raceway. He led every lap before a heavy thunderstorm forced the race to end after 206 of 250 scheduled laps on the ¾-mile oval. It was the first time in IRL IndyCar Series history that a driver had led every lap of a race.
In addition, Dixon led all three practice sessions, won the MBNA Pole and led both days of the series Open Test on May 22-23 at the Richmond "bullring."
The seven other drivers nominated for the Speed Channel Driver of the Year Award are: Kenny Bernstein (NHRA), Matt Kenseth (NASCAR), Steve Kinser (World of Outlaws), Ryan Newman (NASCAR), Scott Pruett (Trans-Am), Paul Tracy (CART) and J.J. Yeley (USAC).
The Driver of the Year Award is in its 37th year. Awards are given out quarterly during the racing season, before the end of the year award is given.
The awards are determined by an independent vote of an 18-member panel of auto-racing journalists and broadcasters, with an additional vote based on the cumulative tally of fan voting at www.speedtv.com.
The winner of the year-end vote will be given a trophy and a Maurice Lacroix Swiss Watch, the official watch of the Driver of the Year Award. The winner will be announced during a 30-minute Driver of the Year special at 7 p.m. Dec. 20 on Speed Channel.
IRL Drivers Nominated for AARWBA Awards: IRL IndyCar Series drivers Scott Dixon, Gil de Ferran and Sam Hornish Jr. and 2004 Menards Infiniti Pro Series champion Mark Taylor were nominated for the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association 2003 Auto Racing All-America team.
Nearly 300 members of the motorsports press select from among six drivers named in each category. Dixon, de Ferran and Hornish were nominated in the open-wheel category, while Taylor was nominated in the At-Large category.
Dixon, de Ferran and Hornish tied for the IndyCar Series lead in wins with three each. Dixon won the 2003 IndyCar Series Championship, and de Ferran won the 2003 Indianapolis 500-Mile Race. Hornish won the fastest automobile race ever on a closed-course in September at California Speedway when he averaged 207.151 mph.
Taylor dominated the Menards Infiniti Pro Series, winning the championship and scoring a record seven wins.
Two drivers from each category will be named to the first team and will be honored at the annual AARWBA banquet Jan. 10 in Pomona, Calif. The winner of the Jerry Titus Award also will be announced at the banquet. The Titus Award honors the team's top driver, the competitor who earns the most votes regardless of category.
The vote also will determine a second team of the drivers placing third and fourth in each category and honorable mentions for all other drivers receiving at least five percent of the vote. AARWBA members have annually chosen an All-America Auto Racing Team since 1970.
The banquet, which also will salute racing legend Dan Gurney, is open to the public. Ticket information is available from AARWBA, 922 N. Pass Ave., Burbank, Calif. 91505 or by calling (818) 842-7005.