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My vote for NMPA Driver of the Year will go outside of NASCAR

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->


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5 Responses to “My vote for NMPA Driver of the Year will go outside of NASCAR”

  1. Russ Says:
    November 26th, 2012 at 8:50 am

    Seems like a worthy choice to me. Good to see you’re willing to get out of the box.

  2. Wayne T. Morgan Says:
    November 26th, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    Great Choice! he is one to watch on any track he runs. Too bad NA$CAR can’t have the action one sees in dirt late models.

  3. Brian Says:
    November 26th, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    NIce. I love the outside the box sticking it to the man but with solid and well thought out reasoning and justification.

    Some days you wonder if the big boys could and would get outclassed on a weekly basis in some other form of racing, with equal equipment.

    Ask Kurt Busch how Prostock went

  4. Troy Says:
    November 27th, 2012 at 10:57 am

    Agree with your choice, I’d even go out and say that Owens, Darrel Lanigan (WoO Late Models), Kyle Larson (he won 25 races or something like that in multiple forms of motorsports including midgets, non-winged sprint cars, winged sprint cars (including a win on a prelim night of the Knoxville Nationals), and K&N stock cars and a championship, as well as Donny Schatz (WoO Sprints) would rank above Brad Keslowski this year.

    The thing that gets me about the NMPA awards is that unless you race NASCAR, most of the voters have never seen you race, I’d hardly call that a National Motorsports Press Association, might as well call it Nascar Motorsports Press Associtation (3/4 of the field of EVERY Nascar race are only there because of $$$, there are guys with more talent running local hobby stock races, problem is they don’t have $$$ or big sponsors.

  5. Tony Geinzer Says:
    December 5th, 2012 at 8:42 am

    Rich, I feel that Jimmy Owens is definitely legit because I feel he has done work.