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Tue, 7 Dec 2004, 07:23 PM

DOY Fourth quarter
By Norm Froscher





In absolutely no surprise, NASCAR Nextel Cup driver Jimmie Johnson easily took fourth quarter Driver of the Year honors.

Johnson, who had also taken second quarter vote honors in the SpeedTV backed balloting, won four races in the final quarter.

Driver of the Lowe's No. 48 Chevrolet, Johnson received 13 first-place votes and 143 points to outdistance CART's Sebastien Bourdais, who won two of that series three races and received one first place vote, but only 67 points.

Points are awarded six drivers on a 9-6-4-3-2-1 scale in the voting.

Yes, one drag racer did appear among the top four finalists in the balloting, NHRA Top Fuel Champion Tony Schumacher, winner of three of the final five races. Despite that feat Schumacher received no first place votes, but did finish fourth, behind NASCAR's Kurt Busch, with 58 points. Busch had one first-place vote and 66 points.

World of Outlaws Steve Kinser finished fifth in the voting and NASCAR Busch champion Martin Truex Jr. sixth, with 41 and 34 points respectively'

Kinser and Dale Earnhardt Jr. had the other first-place nods among those panelists voting.

Not only did Johnson win his second quarter, but he completed a sweep of the four quarters by NASCAR drivers. Earnhardt Jr. won the first quarter and Jeff Gordon the third.

The 2004 overall Driver of the Year will be decided by a secret ballot and announced at a later date. He will be honored at the IMHOF Hall of Fame induction banquet at Talladega Superspeedway in April.

NASCAR's Ryan Newman is defending Driver of the Year.





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