Photo: ABC/ESPN

ESPY Best Driver Award Nominees Announced

By Frank Santoroski, Staff Writer

The nominees for the annual ESPY awards were announced recently and there will be four different racing series represented in the category of Best Driver. The ESPY awards (Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Award) are presented by ABC/ESPN and will be broadcast live on July 13, 2016. WWE wrestling personality, John Cena, will host the awards ceremony.

The Best Driver category has been a part of the ESPYS since its inception in 1993, with Briton Nigel Mansell being the first winner. Nominees are selected by a panel of journalists, broadcasters, and sports executives with the winner being chosen through online fan balloting.

The Best Driver nominees for the 2016 award ceremony are as follows:

Scott Dixon (Verizon IndyCar Series): New Zealand’s Scott Dixon took his Target Chip Ganassi car to the IndyCar Championship in 2015. He trailed Team Penske drivers Juan Pablo Montoya and Helio Castroneves in the points standings heading into the final race of the season at Sonoma.  With a brilliantly executed race he came out as the victor. The Championship was the fourth in Dixon’s IndyCar career that also includes an Indianapolis 500 win in 2008. Dixon ranks first in career wins among active IndyCar drivers.

Kyle Busch (NASCAR Sprint Cup Series): Kyle Busch’s 2015 season began with multiple leg injuries suffered in a crash at Daytona. The recovery period caused him to miss the first eleven races of the season. Upon returning to the cockpit, Busch took his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to four wins within six weeks during the summer, earning him a spot in the Chase for the Championship. In the Chase finale at Homestead, he put on a textbook performance, taking the win and earning his first Sprint Cup Title.

Lewis Hamilton (FIA Formula One): Lewis Hamilton, who hails from Hertfordshire in England, joined some very elite company in 2015 by becoming a three-time World Driving Champion. In the nineteen-race season, Hamilton took his Petronas AMG Mercedes Formula One Car to an astonishing seventeen podium finishes with ten Grand Prix wins.  Hamilton has 45 career F1 victories through the 2016 European Grand Prix which ranks him third on the all-time list.

Erica Enders-Stevens (NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series):  Texas native, Erica Enders-Stevens took nine 2015 national wins in the NHRA Pro Stock division earning her second consecutive championship for Elite Motorsports/Mopar. She currently holds the record for most NHRA wins by a female driver, and is the current record holder of the NHRA National Record for Pro Stock, 6.464 seconds and 215.55 mph, set in 2014.

Alexander Rossi (Verizon IndyCar Series): California-born Alexander Rossi had set his career sights on Formula One before joining the IndyCar Series in 2015. Utilizing crafty fuel strategy and fine driving, Rossi won the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 for the Andretti/Herta racing team in the NAPA-Honda car. Rossi became the first rookie driver to win the 500 since 2001, and currently leads the contenders for the season-long Rookie of the Year award.

Fans can cast their vote for Best Driver, and a variety of other sports-related categories, by utilizing this link. Voting will be open right up until the awards broadcast begins on ABC-TV on July 13 at 8:00 PM EST.

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A life-long racing enthusiast, Santoroski attended his first live race in 1978, the Formula One Grand Prix of the United States at Watkins Glen. Following graduation from Averett College, Santoroski covered the CART series through the 1990s and 2000s for CART Pages and Race Family Motorsports in addition to freelance writing for various print and web sources. He produces a variety of current and historical content for Motorsports Tribune and serves as the host for the weekly radio broadcast,Drafting the Circuits,

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