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.

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”