PATRICK EARNS AWARD FROM UNITED STATES SPORTS ACADEMY INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, Jan. 2, 2006 -- IRL IndyCarÂ® Series Bombardier Rookie of the Year Danica Patrick has picked up another award. Patrick, who became the highest-finishing woman and the...
PATRICK EARNS AWARD FROM UNITED STATES SPORTS ACADEMY
INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, Jan. 2, 2006 -- IRL IndyCar® Series Bombardier Rookie of the Year Danica Patrick has picked up another award.
Patrick, who became the highest-finishing woman and the first woman to lead the Indianapolis 500, was named Female Athlete of the Year by the United States Sports Academy after dominating a world-wide internet election hosted by USATODAY.com.
Tennis champion Roger Federer of Switzerland was the top overall vote getter and was named the 2005 Outstanding Athlete of the Year while Seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong was named Male Athlete of the Year for the second straight year.
Tennis star Kim Clijsters finished second in the women's balloting, followed by the 2003 Female Athlete of the Year, LPGA golfer Annika Sorenstam. PGA golfer Tiger Woods finished second for Male Athlete of the Year, followed by San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan.
Others nominated for the award: Tom Brady, Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush, Jermaine Dye, Matt Leinart, Peyton Manning, Bode Miller, Asafa Powell, Aaron Peirsol and Tony Stewart. The female ballot included Natalie Coughlin, Tirunesh Dibaba, Yolanda Griffith, Gao Jun, Deena Kastor, Nastia Liukin, Paula Radcliffe, Irina Slutskaya, Venus Williams and Yelena Isinbayeva.
The Athlete of the Year is the culmination of the Sports Academy's yearlong Athlete of the Month program, which recognizes the accomplishments of men and women in any sport around the globe on a monthly basis.
In addition to the USSA award, Patrick was runner-up in media voting for the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year, trailing only golf superstar Annika Sorenstam. Patrick also ranked No. 6 among 30 athletes in fan voting at ESPN.com in the "Who Was The Ultimate Face of 2005, SportsNation?" poll and was named "Newsmaker of the Year" by the Eastern Motorsports Press Association.
Other athletes receiving votes behind Sorenstam and Patrick in the AP voting included tennis players Maria Sharapova, Williams and Clijsters, golfer Michelle Wie, swimmer Natalie Coughlin and basketball player Sheryl Swoopes.
The ESPN.com poll asked fans to vote on the athletes who made the biggest headlines in 2005. The only athletes to finish ahead of Patrick were, in order, NFL wide receiver Terrell Owens, Armstrong, Bush, basketball player Ron Artest and football coach Charlie Weis.
In another salute to Patrick's performance at Indianapolis, FOX NASCAR analyst Darrell Waltrip named the 89th Indianapolis 500 as the Race of the Year in his year-end column for foxsports.com.
Three-time NASCAR champion Waltrip wrote: "We've all talked about the exciting races of the year in NASCAR, but one of the most exciting races that I saw in 2005 was the Indy 500 with Danica Patrick leading and finishing fourth. It was as good as it gets. She spun out and had trouble in the pits, but she was there at the end of the day when it was time to decide who was going to win the race. She battled it out with eventual race winner Dan Wheldon and three or four of the top drivers in the series to see who was going to go to victory lane. It was as good a race as I've seen. Of course, the IRL cars put on an incredible show any time they go to the mile-and-a-half tracks, but Danica's Indy 500 was one race that got me really excited."
The IRL IndyCar Series opens the 2006 season with the Toyota Indy 300 on March 26 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race will be broadcast live on ABC Sports and the IMS Radio Network. The fifth season of Indy Pro Series competition also opens on March 26 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.