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Tue, 6 Dec 2005, 05:25 PM

Edwards Edges 'The Sarge'
By Norm Froscher





When does three out-of-seventeen beat five-out-of-five?

That's the case in the Speed Channel Driver of the Year fourth quarter vote which was just completed.

NASCAR's Carl Edwards won two Nextel Cup races and one Busch race to barely edge out NHRA Top Fuel Champion Tony Schumacher, who won all five of the NHRA races during the quarter. Edwards finished tied with Greg Biffle for second in final standings of NASCAR's "Chase".

Edwards, driver of the Home Depot Ford, received four first-place votes, but compiled 81 points to edge out Schumacher, chauffeur of the U.S. Army Top Fueler, who received five first-place votes, but only 79 total points, in voting by a 17-member national panel and viewers of Speed TV.

Panelists vote for six competitors from all forms of motorsports during the quarterly tabulations and points are awarded on a 9-6-4-3-2-1 scale.

A secret ballot will be taken later to crown the Speed TV Driver of the Year.

And in case you noticed, oh, how the mighty have fallen, at least in the fourth quarter vote.

For Pro Stocker Greg Anderson, the 2004 DOY and the only quarter-pounder other than John Force to win the award, won two events in his Summit GTO (and teammate Jason Line one), but didn't receive a single point in the balloting.

The quarterly voting actually doesn't decide the year-end honoree, as Anderson proved last year, since that is a completely separate ballot.

For the record, however, and perhaps a mild surprise, due to the popularity of NASCAR, Nextel Champion Tony Stewart did no better than third.

Driver of the Home Depot Chevrolet, Stewart was winless in the "Chase" but managed three second places to and finished the voting with five first-place votes and 59 points.

Fourth place went to an open wheel competitor as Sebastien Bourdais, winner of two of three CART races, had one first-place vote and 51 points.

Others in the top six were NASCAR's Greg Biffle, driver of the National Guard Ford -- with a win, two seconds and a third -- who finished in that tie with Edwards for second in NASCAR. He had one first-place vote and 31 points for fifth place.

Sixth was taken by another open wheel competitor, Dan Wheldon of IRL, who although he didn't win one of that series two races, clinched the championship. He had 27 points.

The other first-place vote in the quarter went to World Of Outlaws campaigner Steve Kinser, who finished with 27 points.

And yeah, another drag racer received mention in the total balloting.

Gary Scelzi, who dethroned John Force for the NHRA Funny Car title, was one of six drivers receiving one point.

Previous quarterly winners this season were NASCAR's Jimmie Johnson, IRL's Wheldon and NASCAR's Stewart.

The Speed Channel Driver of the Year's patron is Florida sportsman and businessman Barry Schmoyer.

Winner of the 2005 award will be formerly honored at the International Motorsports Hall of Fame inductions in Talladega during that Superspeedway's spring race weekend ceremonies.

***

Oh, and if you're wondering how your DRC correspondent former panelist would have voted, forget it. Press of other editorial duties kept me from filling out a complete 1 through 6.

Suffice to say, I wouldn't have had Edwards first. Maybe Schumacher, but that's a whole different story for another time.





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