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Sat, 17 Sep 2005, 11:11 AM

DOY Third Quarter Vote
By Norm Froscher





You might wish to refer to it as the Tony Stewart quarter.

Little else might adequately describe how the driver of the No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet rolled through the third quarter, both on the NASCAR Nextel Cup circuit and in voting for the top American motorsports competitor.

Drag racing? Well, that's another story, in a minute, but first Stewart.

And this writer, a former long-time member of the panel will pass along how his ballot would have read at the end of this report.

Stewart, the Joe Gibbs driver posted an amazing victories in the third quarter, including the prestigious Brickyard 400.

And when voting by the Speed Channel Driver of the Year media panel of 17 members was completed, Stewart fell just one vote shy of being a unanimous choice.

He picked up 16 of 17 votes and amassed 150 points to easily outdistance IRL's Dan Wheldon and CART's Sebastien Bourdais, who had 69 and 58 points, respectively.

Scoring on the voting is done on a 9-6-4-3-2-1 basis for the top six drivers by each panelist.

Oh yeah, that first-place vote -- the one that didn't go to Stewart-- was for Bourdais.

World Of Outlaws Steve Kinser finished fourth in the voting with 36 points and NASCAR's Matt Kenseth was fifth with 25 points. Craftsman Truck competitor Dennis Setzer rounded out the top six in the voting with 21 points.

Now, drag racing. It wasn't a very good quarter for NHRA competitors.

Pro Stock champion Greg Anderson, albeit the defending Driver of the Year, finished back up the track (11th) with five points and fellow Pro Stocker Kurt Johnson was 14th with three points.

NHRA Funny Car driver Eric Medlen was next, tied for 16th with Craftsman Truck competitor David Reutimann, both with two points.

So, as promised, without the benefit of hindsight, how did your correspondent vote? Actually, the pre-conference call ballot agreed with the panel, with Stewart in first place, but it took a turn from there.

Here were Fro's six: 1. Stewart, 2. Setzer, 3. Medlen, 4. Wheldon, 5. Bourdais, 6. Kinser.

NASCAR's Jimmie Johnson and then Wheldon won the first two quarters of voting. A fourth quarter ballot will be taken in November and then a final secret vote will decide the 2005 Driver of the Year.

Patron of the Driver of the Year is Sarasota, Fla. businessman and sportsman Barry Schmoyer. The award is backed by Speed TV.





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