Labonte wins Driver of the Year award

Skip Barber trained Bobby Labonte was named "Driver of the Year" by a panel of 16 media representatives and by fan voters on ESPN.com. Labonte, the 2000 Winston Cup champion, was in New York on Friday for formal coronation ceremonies. The Texan...

Skip Barber trained Bobby Labonte was named "Driver of the Year" by a panel of 16 media representatives and by fan voters on ESPN.com. Labonte, the 2000 Winston Cup champion, was in New York on Friday for formal coronation ceremonies. The Texan won four races this season (tied for second on the circuit) and clinched the title with one race remaining on the schedule.

The entrants were made up of racers from the NASCAR, CART and NHRA communities. 1994 Barber Pro Series racer Juan Montoya was one of the candidates from the CART classification. The Columbian, who has since moved to contest Formula 1, claimed two first place votes to Labonte's seven.

The award is prestigious. The first winner, 20-some years ago, was Mario Andretti. In the years between, names such as Yarborough, Unser, Petty, Foyt, Waltrip, Earnhardt, Fittipaldi and Skip Barber trained Gordon have elevated the list. The winner will accept formal honors at the International Motorsports Hall of Fame induction ceremonies at Talladega, Ala., in April.

The members of the media committee are: publishers Chris Economaki and Dick Berggren; broadcasters Eli Gold, Bob Jenkins and Ken Squier; AP reporters Mike Harris and Lewis Franck; Steve Ballard of USA Today, Mark Armijo of The Arizona Republic, Shav Glick of the Los Angeles Times, Gary Long of the Miami Herald, John Sturbin of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Mike Vega of the Boston Globe, Steve Waid of Winston Cup Scene, Dave Woolford of the Toledo Blade, and Robin Miller of the Indianapolis Star.

- Andrew Torres

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Series NASCAR-CUP