2002 CART Fedex Championship Series titlist Cristiano da Matta named 2002 National Driver of the Year by vote of fans, ,edia panelists. MIAMI (November 22, 2002) - Newly-crowned CART FedEx Championship Series titlewinner Cristiano da Matta not...
2002 CART Fedex Championship Series titlist Cristiano da Matta named 2002 National Driver of the Year by vote of fans, ,edia panelists.
MIAMI (November 22, 2002) - Newly-crowned CART FedEx Championship Series titlewinner Cristiano da Matta not only impressed everyone in the CART paddock with his dominating march to the championship in 2002, but apparently turned heads throughout the motorsports industry as he was voted the winner of the prestigious Driver of the Year Award given by the Legends Marketing Group.
Da Matta narrowly bested NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion Tony Stewart in the closest voting in the 35-year history of the award after a season that saw him win seven races and seven poles en route to the CART championship.
"It feels great to win this award, especially because NASCAR is so big in this country and the fact that we were able to draw the votes from the media is a tribute to what we did at Newman/Haas Racing this year." da Matta said.
The Brazilian became the first CART driver to win the award since Nigel Mansell took the trophy in 1993 and became only the 10th driver in the history of CART to win the award. In doing so, he was voted ahead of some of the top names in all of North American racing including not only Stewart, but drag-racing legend John Force, NHRA Top Fuel champ Larry Dixon and the King of the Outlaws Steve Kinser.
"It's great to be voted ahead of those guys, but I just wish there was a way we could all race together and see who was the best," da Matta said. "I think it would be great to run a series where you ran stock cars, Outlaws cars and dragsters. That would be cool."
Da Matta will receive the final award Friday evening at the 2002 CART Awards Banquet in Miami, where he will receive a trophy, a custom-built 2003 Indian motorcycle and a Maurice Lacroix Swiss watch.