Jimmie Johnson named 2013 Driver of the Year

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A panel of American motorsports broadcasters and journalists have chosen Jimmie Johnson as the 2013 Driver of the Year, marking the fifth time that he’s been recognized as the top driver in a North American racing series.

Johnson, who claimed his sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup championship last fall after a nip-and-tuck battle through the Chase with Matt Kenseth, broke a tie with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon for the most DOTY victories all-time.

“It’s a great honor to receive the Driver of the Year Award,” Johnson said in a statement released today. “2013 was an incredible season and I’m really proud at how hard everyone at Hendrick Motorsports and Team Lowe’s Racing worked to win races and ultimately the championship. It’s awesome to be recognized for our effort.”

The DOTY award was founded in 1967 and has honored some of the greatest names in auto racing, including legends like Mario Andretti (its very first winner), A.J. Foyt, Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, and John Force.

Johnson was given this year’s award after he received 12 votes from the panel. Force, who enters 2014 after winning his 16th NHRA Funny Car championship, was second with six votes. 2013 World of Outlaws champion Daryn Pittman, who drives for Sprint Cup star Kasey Kahne’s short-track team, got one vote.

“Between Jimmie Johnson and the ageless John Force, panelists had to choose between some historic achievements,” DOTY Foundation president Barry Schmoyer said in his own thoughts.

“As we noted the last time Jimmie won Driver of the Year Award [2010], it will be a long time before anyone will set the bar as high he does.”

This year marks the fifth consecutive year that a NASCAR competitor has won the DOTY award. Johnson has won it three times in that span (2009, 2010, 2013), while Tony Stewart and Brad Keselowski won in 2011 and 2012 respectively.

The last non-NASCAR driver to win it was the NHRA’s Tony Schumacher in 2008.

SMP Racing unveils BR1 LMP1 car in Bahrain ahead of WEC entry

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SMP Racing has publicly unveiled its new BR1 LMP1 car that will enter the FIA World Endurance Championship from 2018.

SMP Racing opted to pull out of racing full-time in the WEC for 2017 in order to focus on its preparations for an LMP1 entry the following year, with the decision being taken long in advance of Porsche’s exit announcement.

Officials from the Russian-backed SMP Racing, as well as drivers including recent IndyCar racer Mikhail Aleshin (sporting a broken arm in a sling), Vitaly Petrov and Sergey Sirotkin were all on hand to unveil the car on Friday in the Bahrain International Circuit paddock ahead of this weekend’s WEC finale.

The BR Engineering BR1 features a Dallara chassis and an AER engine, and has completed over 2,000 km in private testing, with further running set to be completed in the coming weeks.

SMP Racing plans to field two cars in the WEC’s LMP1 class next year, and is keen to get as many Russian drivers as possible in the seats from its wide pool of talent.

Even with Porsche’s departure from LMP1, the class is set to feature a bigger field thanks to the increased number of privateers moving up, with Toyota set to remain the sole manufacturer in the class.