Earnhardt Jr. Voted First Quarter Driver of the Year
April 30, 2014 | 10:46 P.M. EST
NASCAR’s perennial fan favorite won title in the voting by an elite panel of American broadcasters and journalists
Ending an almost two-year winless drought Earnhardt took the checkered flag in the season opening, and rain-delayed, Daytona 500. In the first quarter, which ended with race in Darlington, he added three second-place and one third-place finishes.
“I’m pretty blown away that we’ve won the First Quarter 2014 Driver of the Year Award,” said Earnhardt. “ It’s an honor and really humbling to be chosen. The members that vote on this award are a credible group, and it’s an award that’s meant a lot to different drivers. It’s one that I’m proud to have been voted for.”
Dale’s father, the late Dale Earnhardt, Sr. won the annual Driver of the Year Awad in 1987 and 1994. If Earnhardt goes on to claim the annual ballot he’d be the third winner’s son to win the DOTY. Al Unser Sr. (1970) and Al Unser Jr. (1990) and Mario Andretti (1967, 1978, and 1984) and Michael Andretti (1991) are the other father-son winners.
Barry Schmoyer, President of the Driver of the Year Foundation, noted, “Dale and his crew chief, Steve Letarte, are in the groove. It wouldn’t surprise me to see them at the Sprint Cup Championship table later this year.”
In the voting Earnhardt, who drives the No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS for Hendrick Motorsports, had seven first-place ballots and totaled 88 points according to the Driver of the Year points system. Kevin Harvick, who drives the No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS in NASCAR, and Australia’s Will Power who drives the No. 12 Verizon Dallara-Chevrolet for Team Penske tied for second place with 80 points.
Harvick had five first-place votes and Australia’s Power had three.
Chase Elliott burst into the limelight scoring 37 points, one first-place vote and finished fourth, in the ballot driving for Earnhardt’s JRM Nationwide Series team. And Kyle Busch also garnered one first-place vote
A total of 20 drivers scored points in the first quarter voting.
In its’ 48th year, the Driver of the Year title is unique. The panel of 17 leading journalists and broadcasters from across the U.S. determines the winner. In quarterly voting, points are awarded on a declining 9, 6, 4,3,2,1 basis. Earnhardt will receive a trophy and a Tissot wristwatch to be presented at a race weekend at to be determined.
“Hopefully we can keep up the good season with our National Guard team and keep ourselves in the conversation for the rest of the year,” Earnhardt added.
President of the Driver of the Year Foundation is Barry Schmoyer, businessman and sportsman of Sarasota, Florida.