Jimmie Johnson Becomes Four-Time DOTY Winner
Fresh off winning his fifth straight Sprint Cup championship, Jimmie Johnson was voted the winner of this year’s Driver of the Year Award, it was announced Wednesday.
The 2010 DOTY is the fourth the Hendrick Motorsports driver has been awarded in his career. He was also the winner of the prestigious award – which is voted upon by a panel of 20 leading North American broadcasters and motorsports journalists – in 2006, 2007 and 2009.
The only other driver to win four DOTYs is Johnson’s HMS teammate, Jeff Gordon.
“Awesome,” Johnson said after being informed of the award. “It’s an honor to win the award again. Among such tough competition, with the voting panel, who it is and how well versed they are in motorsports. It’s a huge, huge honor.”
Johnson got 11 votes from the 19 members of the panel who voted this year.
John Force, who won the NHRA Full Thottle Drag Racing Series’ Funny Car championship in 2010, received seven votes. Force, who won his 15th Funny Car championship this year, won the 1996 DOTY.
Kyle Busch, the NASCAR driver who notched victories in Sprint Cup, Nationwide and the Camping World Trucks series, received one vote.
The Driver of the Year Award is in its 44th season. It is the longest-running award program of
its kind. Its first winner was Mario Andretti.
All drivers in major American racing series are eligible to win the DOTY.
Andretti and Darrell Waltrip were three-time winners of the award.
Members of the voting panel were invited to participate in a teleconference last week before casting their ballots. During that teleconference the merits of each of the candidates was discussed.
“This year’s pre-vote teleconference was one of the most spirited debates that I can recall,” said Driver of the Year Foundation president Barry Schmoyer. “Other drivers such as the NHRA’s Funny Car champion, John Force and Kyle Busch, who raced and won in NASCAR’s top three divisions, had their advocates.
“As many people have said already, it will be a long time before anyone will set the bar as high as Jimmie Johnson,” Schmoyer said.
Johnson, a native of El Cajon, Calif., won six Cup races in 2010 and now has 53 in his 10-year career in the series. He had 17 top-five victories in 2010.
He began the final race of the season in second place – 15 points behind Denny Hamlin. He ended the race at Homestead-Miami Speedway by finishing second to winner Carl Edwards and won the championship by 39 points over of Hamlin.
Johnson started the season strongly, winning two of the first three races and then three of the the first five.
He had just one victory in the Chase – the 12-driver, 10-race playoff at the end of the season – but had four podium finishes and seven top-fives finishes.
Johnson will receive a trophy and a Tissot wristwatch which will be presented at a place and time to be announced later.
The DOTY program is overseen by Schmoyer, a businessman and sportsman of Sarasota, Fla.
Further information on the award may be obtained from Driver of the Year Foundation, PO Box 49827, Sarasota, Florida 34230 or (941) 379-2318 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
– Lewis Franck is a motorsports writer for the Reuters news service9 Comments