Tag:Driver of the Year
Posted on: December 16, 2010 5:56 pm
Edited on: December 16, 2010 6:01 pm

Wrong Choice for Driver of the Year

A panel of twenty esteemed media members bestowed the 2010 "Driver of the Year Award" to Jimmie Johnson.

Simply put my colleagues made the wrong choice.

No driver had a better performance in the past year than Kyle Busch, who won an amazing 24 races across all three of NASCAR's national divisions with victories in the Sprint Cup Series (3), Nationwide Series (13) and the Camping World Truck Series (8).

Busch set the single season Nationwide Series victory mark with his 13 triumphs, shattering Sam Ard's previous record. He won half of the 16 truck series starts he made for a .500 average. In its first year, Kyle Busch Motorsports also won the truck series owner's points title on the strength of the boss' performance.

In August Busch became the only driver in NASCAR history to sweep a NASCAR tripleheader weekend when he was victorious in Bristol's Sprint Cup, Nationwide and truck series races. And unlike about 30 other competitors, Busch qualified for the Sprint Cup Series playoffs on the strength of three wins eventually finishing eighth in the final standings.

Yet somehow he received only one vote for DOTY with Johnson winning in a landslide followed by NHRA star John Force who won his 15th career Finny Car title this year.

While Johnson's accomplishment of a fifth consecutive Cup title is unprecedented I still believe Busch's calendar year performance was more impressive.

The parameters of the DOTY are a bit ambiguous and most likely a purposeful effort. After all awards such as this one are a subjective process. The only criteria given is that candidates must have competed in an American four-wheel racing discipline leaving the likes of Formula One drivers and motorcycle riders to vie for other accolades.

In my mind the award should then be determined by what a driver accomplishes in a calendar year of competition. Using that as a benchmark Busch should be a hands down winner.

What Johnson did in winning a fifth straight crown takes into consideration his performance in the previous four years, which is all well and fine if the award were called the "Driver of the Last Five Years." His come from behind effort to take this year's Cup crown in the final race of the season at Homestead was definitely impressive, but he fell 16 victories short of what Busch was able to accomplish over the course of the racing season.

It reminds me of when the Academy Award is presented to a long-time actor or actress who may or may not have turned in their best performance in the film they were nominated for, but are presented an Oscar based on their entire body of work.

I can't help but wonder if some of Busch's behavioral antics tainted a few members of the panel who were less than enamored with his sometimes volatile and controversial shenanigans. While Johnson has always been a model citizen, Busch has built a career on being a lightning rod for sometimes outrageous acts and comments on and off the track.

Perhaps that did sway the opinion of voters and Busch felt the backlash for some of those actions. Or maybe there is a view that only what is accomplished at the top level of NASCAR racing in the Sprint Cup Series should be considered in the DOTY process and the second and third tire Nationwide and truck circuits don't count.

I don't have a vote but if I did, none of that would matter and only what I saw Busch do in a race car or a truck would play into my decision to name him the 2010 "Driver of the Year." <!--StartFragment-->


Category: Auto Racing
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