Dale Earnhardt Jr. voted First Quarter Driver of the Year

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was named winner of the first quarter Driver of the Year Award 2014 recently 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 the race in Darlington, S.C., he added three second-place finishes and one third-place result.

“I’m pretty blown away that we’ve won the First Quarter 2014 Driver of the Year Award,” said Earnhardt, driver of the No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS. “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 Award in 1987 and 1994. If Earnhardt goes on to claim the annual ballot he’d be the third 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 (NASCAR) Sprint Cup championship table later this year.”

Earnhardt received seven first-place ballots and totaled 88 points according to the Driver of the Year points system.  Kevin Harvick and Australia’s Will Power tied for second place with 80 points.

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 nationwide determine the winner. Earnhardt will receive a trophy and a Tissot wristwatch to be presented at a race weekend to be determined later.

“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.