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Fri, 5 Dec 2008, 11:46 PM

Driver of the Year Fourth Quarter Vote
By Norm Froscher





Well, the season's over, finished, done,

Now it's to turn our attention to 2009, except for some award ceremonies and some year end awards, like the Driver of the Year.

Ah, yes, the Driver of the year, with its quarterly prize and then the finale for the season.

First, some history and fourth quarter result.

I was an original member of the Olsonite DOY panel, which was strictly limited to 10 members. And when I joined that new panel in 1976, it was stressed on me, that the vote was to reflect the drivers who won races in the United States, not necessarily championships, or pole positions or even completion of the competition,

So, I dutifully turned in my ballot for that first season.

Cale Yarborough won the NASCAR title. And it slips my mind who took the USAC championship, but looking at the results, I saw where David Pearson won the most races, and biggest ones, so he was the name on my ballot.

And on a lot of others, and the Silver Fox wound up Driver of the Year and in New York, turned over his check to the Wood Brothers for a new private automobile.

A couple of big changes would take part in the voting before long.

First, a quarterly vote was put in effect for more exposure. And it became almost tradition for the Daytona 500 winner to take the first quarter and Indianapolis 500 winner to walk off with the second. The third and fourth quarters went to those doing the best in those segments.

Secondly, thanks to then NHRA's pr person Steve Earwood (who's now the president of Rockingham Dragway) we approached Ozzie Olson of the sponsoring Olsonite Corporation about including drag racing in the vote.

Despite friend Earwood giving me considerable credit for the move as he presented me at the NHRA Div. 2 Hall of Fame, it wasn't my decision, I just paid it lip service to Olson's right-hand man, Tom Daily. The idea was accepted and you now know that John Force and Greg Anderson have been fittingly honored. Oh yeah, early on I remember Shirley Muldowowney being honored on one of those quarters.

I served on the panel through a couple of changes in sponsorship, then when I left newspapering for free lancing, I was immediately retired by then leader Ki Cyler. You might say, my jersey was retired while I was still in it.

However, I continued to serve the panel, being on the conference calls, writing releases and helping in any way I could. Another panelist, friend Lewis Franck, took over those writing chores and I received a Lifetime Achievement Award from patron Barry Schmoyer

So much for history and it's with a bit of qualm I write the following.

***

So here we are in 2008. And this is meant as information, not a slam at the panel.

Tony Schumacher, the NHRA Top Fuel champion, won five straight races earlier this season and as a result, was named the third quarter champion by the now 17-member panel for a perfect record.

Remember, we said wins are, or at least were, the No. 1 consideration.

John Force had 13 wins in his championship year in '96 and Greg Anderson 15, that's right, 15, in his title go around

Schumacher?

Well, he won 15 races, including that perfect string, so who's to say that was just as difficult in Top Fuel as was those 13 or 15 in Funny Car and Pro Stock?

But that's for the year-end vote to decide.

What about the fourth quarter?

If I was still voting, my fourth quarater ballot would have read:<
1.Tony Schumacher
2. Jimmie Johnson
3. Carl Edwards
4.Cruz Pedregon
5. Kyle Busch
6. And a sixth place tie between Jeg Coughlin and Donny Schatz of the World Of Outlaws

But here's how the vote went for the top three -- I won't go into detail on all six:
Edwards, 128 points and 10 first place nods
Johnson, 115 points and seven first place votes
And Schumacher, 79 points, no first-place votes, but eight second place nods.
So now, let's look at wins in the quarter
Schumacher, three of five, or 60 percent.
Edwards. three of nine, 33 1/3 percent
Johnson, three of nine, 33 1/3 percent

Somehow, those figures don't jibe. Johnson won his third straight NASCAR title, while Schumacher won his fifth straight and sixth overall championship in the fourth quarter, despite having to adopt to the new 1,000 foot, instead of 1,1320 feet, rule. Edwards was merely his closet pursuer.

Again, this was not meant as a slam to the panel, or to good friend Schmoyer, but I thought these figures might prove helpful, even though voting for the year end is past.





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