NASCAR Sprint Cup driver and 2014 Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been voted Driver of the Year for the first quarter of the racing season.
The DOTY voting system is one that is quite unique. The voting panel consists of 17 of the sports leading journalists from all across the United States. When it comes to the quarterly voting, the journalists reward points on a sliding scale of 9,6,4,3,2, and 1. After all 17 journalists cast their votes using that point scale a winner is then announced.
Earnhardt received seven first-place voted out of a possible 17 and finished the voting with a total score of 88 points, which just so happens to coincide with his car number. Kevin Harvick, the driver of the No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet in NASCAR, and Australia’s Will Power who drives the No. 12 Verizon Dallara-Chevrolet for Team Penske tied for second place with 80 points apiece. Harvick received five first place votes and Power received three. Coming in fourth place was rookie sensation Chase Elliott. Elliott finished the voting with 37 points and one first-place vote. NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Kyle Busch rounded out the top-five with 20 points total and one first-place vote as well.
2014 has been quite the year for Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 88 team. After their huge win in a rain delayed Daytona 500, Earnhardt has gone on to show just how consistent he has become. Along with his win this season he has also added to that four other top-3 finishes; three second-place finishes and one third-place finish. Although he is a long way from matching his season high in wins, this has been the most consistent start of his NASCAR career.
With his spot in the chase essentially clinched, Earnhardt heads into Talladega this weekend looking for his sixth win at the track. A sixth win at Talladega would tie him with Jeff Gordon for the most wins at the track among active drivers. The sixth win for him or a win on Sunday by any Hendrick Motorsports driver would be the teams 12th win at the track and would tie them for the most all time time with Richard Petty Motorsports.