Jarrett leads Driver-of-the-year balloting

NASCAR/Winston Cup's Dale Jarrett has served notice this may be 1999 all over again. That was when the driver of the No. 88 Robert Yates/UPS Ford Taurus won first-quarter DRIVER OF THE YEAR balloting and then went on to claim the most...

NASCAR/Winston Cup's Dale Jarrett has served notice this may be 1999 all over again.

That was when the driver of the No. 88 Robert Yates/UPS Ford Taurus won first-quarter DRIVER OF THE YEAR balloting and then went on to claim the most prestigious award in American motorsports along with the Winston Cup Championship.

Jarrett again cruised to opening quarter DRIVER OF THE YEAR honors this week, as he was selected by a national panel of motorsports media and viewers of ESPN for the honor.

Jarrett, 44, easily outdistanced the Indy Racing League's Sam Hornish, Jr., piling up 13 first-place votes and 141 points to the latter's two first-place nods and 85 points.

"Any time you receive recognition like this, especially when all forms of motorsports are involved, it's certainly a tremendous honor. We've had a real strong start and in some ways it does resemble 1999, particularly how we came into the season. I felt like our team at Robert Yates Racing had as good an off-season as we've ever had this past winter and that's a huge factor in what we've been able to achieve so far in 2001. The engine department is really on top of its game right now and you couple that with an unbelievable performance on the part of Todd Parrott and all of our guys so far, well it, makes my job easy and real enjoyable. I've always felt that any individual award that I am fortunate enough to receive reflects back on the work of a lot of good people. And I'm blessed to be working with the best in the business. I want to make sure people understand that my association with Robert Yates Racing and our new partnership with UPS has a great deal to do with the success I have as a driver."

Jarrett won three of the final four Winston Cup races of the first quarter, while Hornish won two IRL events. Both drivers are leading their series.

Points are awarded on a 9-6-4-3-2-1 basis in voting for six drivers by the panel and ESPN viewers.

Third-place went to Winston Cup driver Kevin Harvick, a popular winner of the Atlanta race as he drove for the late Dale Earnhardt. Harvick had the other two first-place votes and 71 points.

The CART/FedEx series Cristiano da Matta finished fourth with 38 points, while Winston Cup's Jeff Gordon and the Craftsman Truck series Ted Musgrave would up tied for fifth and rounded out the top six with 15 points each.

Gordon is a three-time DRIVER OF THE YEAR.

Meanwhile, NASCAR/Winston Cup's Bobby Labonte, 2000's DRIVER OF THE YEAR, will be formally presented his trophy, diamond ring and a custom Indian Motorcycle Thursday, April 19, during black tie induction ceremonies at the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in Talladega, Alabama.

A whopping 23 different drivers received support in the DRIVER OF THE YEAR first-quarter voting. Three more quarterly ballots will be taken and then a final secret ballot at the end of the season will determine the 2001 winner.

The World of Outlaws Danny Lasoski finished seventh in the first-quarter balloting with 12 points, while there were ties among all the drivers. CART's Gil de Ferran and NASCAR's Michael Waltrip each had six points, while NHRA Pro Stocker Warren Johnson, NASCAR's Steve Park, CART's Helio Castroneves, the Outlaws Mark Kinser and NHRA Top Fuel driver Mike Dunn each collected four points.

Another NHRA Top Fueler, Darrell Russell, and Craftsman Trucks Scott Riggs each had three points, while NHRA's John Force, the one drag racer to win DRIVER OF THE YEAR (1996), IRL's Eliseo Salazar and Busch Series Greg Biffle had two points each.

Andy Hillenburg, Johnny Benson, Steve Kinser and Jay Drake each tallied one point.

-RYR/ESPN-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Gordon , Dale Jarrett , Bobby Labonte , Michael Waltrip , Steve Park , Mike Dunn , Warren Johnson , John Force , Kevin Harvick , Greg Biffle , Eliseo Salazar , Gil de Ferran , Johnny Benson , Ted Musgrave , Andy Hillenburg , Mark Kinser , Scott Riggs , Danny Lasoski , Steve Kinser , Jay Drake , Robert Yates , Cristiano da Matta , Sam Hornis
Teams Yates Racing