Three-time and reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart took home the 2012 “Best Driver” ESPY at the 20th annual ESPY Awards last night, beating out four-time IZOD IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti, F1 champion Sebastian Vettel and NHRA champion Del Worsham.
Stewart put together an epic Chase for the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup, in what proved to be one of the most exciting seasons in NASCAR history. Stewart won five of the 10 Chase races, narrowly edging out Carl Edwards in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway to take home the title.
“I am thrilled to win the ‘Best Driver’ award after what turned out to be a great NASCAR season last year. I was fortunate enough to be able to take the checkered flag when it mattered most,” said Stewart. “There were some great drivers and great champions in this category, so I cannot thank the NASCAR fans and everyone who voted enough for their unbelievable support.”
It is the third time Stewart has taken home “Best Driver” honors, winning in 2003 and 2006. Stewart was also nominated in the “Best Championship Performance” category this year.
“I want to congratulate Tony on winning the ESPY for ‘Best Driver’ last night,” said NASCAR Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Steve Phelps. “His dramatic run to the championship highlighted his overall performance on the track last season, and we’re thrilled the sports world recognized this achievement. Hats off to Tony Stewart and the entire Stewart-Haas Racing organization.”
Jimmie Johnson, who was a presenter for the “Best Comeback Athlete” award during last night’s show, won the “Best Driver” award in each of the four previous seasons.
NASCAR Nationwide Series star Danica Patrick also presented the “Best Team” award along with Steve Nash at last night’s show to the Miami Heat. She teamed up with Justin Bieber to present the “Best Team” award at last year’s ESPYs to the Dallas Mavericks.