Junior Earns "Best Driver" ESPY

Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 8 Budweiser team and winner of the 2004 Daytona 500, scored a victory of a different sort Wednesday night, winning the ESPY Award for "Best Driver".

The announcement came at the annual ESPY Awards banquet Wednesday at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, Calif. Fan voting determined the winners of 38 different categories (the complete list of winners can be found at www.espn.go.com/espy2004). ESPN, the sports cable network that created the ESPYs in 1993 to recognize sports excellence, will televise the show Sunday, July 18 at 9 p.m. ET. Dale Jr. was unable to attend because of scheduling conflicts.

Other nominees in the "Best Driver" category included six-time Formula One champion Michael Schumacher, 2003 NHRA Funny Car champion Tony Pedregon, Indy Racing League champion Scott Dixon and 2003 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champ Matt Kenseth. This marks the second straight year a NASCAR driver has won the ESPY for "Best Driver". Tony Stewart earned the honor in 2003. NASCAR drivers have won the award seven times in 12 years, led by Jeff Gordon with three (1996, 1998, 1999).

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