Hunter-Reay wins ESPY for Best Driver, first for IndyCar since 1997

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Ryan Hunter-Reay’s 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series championship has netted him one last award later in 2013 – an ESPY award for Best Driver.

The Andretti Autosport driver’s comeback in the final two races of 2012 took him past Will Power to capture his first series title. He also took home RACER Magazine’s Racer of the Year and Road Racer of the Year awards earlier this year.

Furthermore, he’s the first open-wheel driver to win the Best Driver ESPY since Jimmy Vasser in 1997. Vasser took home the CART series title for Target Chip Ganassi Racing – that team’s first ever championship – in 1996.

Hunter-Reay beat out 2013 Indianapolis 500 champion Tony Kanaan, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski and defending three-time Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel in a fan vote.

Danica Patrick, who’s unlikely to be nominated for the Best Driver ESPY anytime soon, was also on hand at the event at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles to present the Best Male Athlete award, won by LeBron James.

Jon Hamm hosted the show and Robin Roberts (Arthur Ashe Courage Award) and the father-and-son team of Dick and Rick Hoyt, veteran marathon runners from Boston, were also honored for their contributions that have transcended sports.

The ESPYs also recognized Dick Trickle, Jason Leffler and Chris Economaki in its “In Memoriam” tribute to those who have passed in the last year.