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Dale Jr. voted first quarter Driver of the Year

May 01, 2014, Staff report, NASCAR.com

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Looks to join 'The Intimidator' as third father-son combo to earn the annual honor

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Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been named winner of the first quarter Driver of the Year Award for 2014 by the DOTY Foundation.

In addition to his win in the season-opening NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, Earnhardt Jr. has five top-five finishes -- including three runner-up finishes and a third-place result -- and six top-10s. He sits fifth in the points standings.

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"I'm pretty blown away that we've won the First Quarter 2014 Driver of the Year Award," Earnhardt Jr. said. "It's an honor and really humbling to be chosen. The members that vote on this award are a credible group, and it's an award that's meant a lot to different drivers. It's one that I'm proud to have been voted for."

Dale Earnhardt claimed the Driver of the Year Award in 1987 and 1994. If Earnhardt Jr. were to win the title, he would join two other father-son winners in earning the prize: Al Unser (1970) and Al Unser Jr. (1990) as well as Mario Andretti (1967, 1978 and 1984) and Michael Andretti (1991).

"Hopefully we can keep up the good season with our National Guard team and keep ourselves in the conversation for the rest of the year," Earnhardt said.

The driver of the No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS for Hendrick Motorsports had seven first-place ballots and totaled 88 points according to the Driver of the Year points system. Two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winner Kevin Harvick and Australia's Will Power of IndyCar tied for second place with 80 points.

"Dale and his crew chief, Steve Letarte, are in the groove," Barry Schmoyer, president of the Driver of the Year Foundation, said. "It wouldn't surprise me to see them at the Sprint Cup Championship table later this year."

A total of 20 drivers scored points in the first quarter voting from a panel of 17 U.S. journalists and broadcasters. Points are awarded on a declining 9, 6, 4, 3, 2, 1 basis. Earnhardt will receive a trophy and a Tissot wristwatch to be presented at a race weekend to be determined. The award is in its 48th season.

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