By admin | November 25, 2012
By Richard Allen
One of the responsibilities of being a member in the National Motorsports Press Association is voting for the Richard Petty Driver of the Year Award. Most years, with a few exceptions, this presentation has served as a rubber stamp for the Sprint Cup champion. And that, of course, makes sense as the driver who wins at the highest level of the sport deserves all the accolades that might come his way.
However, this year I have decided to go away from voting for the Cup title winner. But my decision is not based on some lack of respect for Brad Keselowski. For not only is my vote going for someone other than the NASCAR champ, it is being cast for someone who has never even started a NASCAR race.
With all due sincerity and respect for the award, I have decided to cast my ballot for the 2012 Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series champion.
Jimmy Owens earned his second consecutive LOLMDS title this season and at the same time won some of dirt late model racing’s biggest events. The Newport, Tennessee driver displayed unbelievable consistency as he placed outside the top-10 only once in over the course of 40 LOLMDS starts.
Owens scored seven victories on the LOLMDS tour including the prestigious $30,000 to win Show-Me 100 in Missouri, a race shown to a national television audience by CBS, and the highly revered $50,000 to win Dirt Track World Championship contested this year in Ohio.
And these feats were not accomplished easily. Each time he hit the track Owens had to take on some of dirt racing greatest talents including Hall of Fame member Scott Bloomquist, Don O’Neal, Steve Francis and the well financed teams owned by NASCAR drivers Clint Bowyer and Bobby Labonte.
Not only did Owens win on the Lucas Oil tour, but he picked up some cherished trophies away from his regular series. As the season drew to a close, ‘The Newport Nightmare’ caught fire as he made a clean sweep of the World of Outlaws sanctioned World Finals on the Dirt Track at Charlotte in early November. That World Finals field is typically one of the strongest assembled all year as drivers from both of the national touring series’ come together for that weekend.
And more, ‘The O Show’ picked up big paychecks as he ran off five consecutive victories including wins in the Cotton Pickin’ 100 in Mississippi and the National 100 in Alabama.
In all, this driver won one championship, twelve total races and a considerable amount of prize money for a dirt late model competitor in 2012.
There is more racing going on around the country than NASCAR. While winning in that form of the sport is worthy of praise, so is winning in other types of racing. And if a driver performs at a high level against tough competition outside of NASCAR his achievements can be just as worthy of reward.
For all the reasons stated above, I will vote for Jimmy Owens as the NMPA’s Richard Petty Driver of the Year. And as stated above, no disrespect at all is meant toward Brad Keselowski. I just feel as though Owens had a better season against competition that was just as tough.
Click on the link to watch what is meant to be a somewhat humorous explanation of my choice for Driver of the Year-> http://youtu.be/BvjYPI9hPXI
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