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.

Supercross: Talon Hawkins to debut in Houston in relief of Jalek Swoll

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Talon Hawkins, 19, will make his Monster Energy Supercross debut on a 250 this week in Houston, Texas as a fill-in rider for Jalek Swoll.

During the Anaheim 2 weekend, the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team announced Swoll underwent successful surgery to repair a broken arm suffered in a practice crash.

That same weekend, Hawkins made some noise. He took the lead from teammate Casey Cohran on Lap 2 of the 250 SX Futures Main and led for three laps before he was overtaken by eventual winner Daxton Bennick. Cochran also got around him to push Hawkins to third.

This will not be Hawkins SuperMotocross professional debut, however; he made three Lucas Oil Pro Motocross starts last year with results of 19th at Spring Creek in Millville, Minnesota, 27th at Ironman in Crawfordsville, Indiana and a best finish of 17th in the season finale at Fox Raceway in Pala, California.

Hawkins also has a top-10 finish in the 125 All-Star division at Pala in 2019 riding a Husqvarna.

Speaking with RacerXOnline.com before the Loretta Lynn Amateur Nationals, Hawkins predicted his future with Husqvarna would come down to how he performed in that race.

“It all just comes down to how I perform at Loretta’s,” Hawkins said. “Say I do really well, I get a top three in both classes and do a pretty solid job, I would like to go pro and just kind of finish out the rest of the series. But there’s also the option of waiting a little bit longer, going back out to [Aldon] Baker’s [Factory] or going anywhere and training, and just being prepared. I’m also open to that too. Honestly, it’s whatever the team wants. Whatever we think is the best option is what we’re going to go with. So, I don’t really have a plan right now, just looking into the future.”

Hawkins finished third overall in the 125 B/C and Schoolboy divisions at the Loretta Lynn Amateur Nationals.