Castroneves leads 2nd quarter DOY balloting

Jul 1, 2009 - 3:35 PM IndyCar racing's Helio Castroneves narrowly edged NASCAR's Tony Stewart in second-quarter voting for the 2009 Driver of the Year award.

The Brazilian driver received 119 points for bouncing back from a legal battle to win his third Indianapolis 500. Stewart, the Sprint Cup points leader, received 116. It was the closest margin in the voting by a national panel of auto racing writers and broadcasters since Stewart lost the overall award to CART's Cristiano da Matta in a tiebreaker in 2002.

Castroneves, who drives for Penske Racing, was acquitted in April of federal tax-evasion charges that could have sent him to jail for up to six years. He missed the first race of the IndyCar season, but won at Indy in May and backed that up with a victory at Texas Motor Speedway in the quarter that ended on June 21.

"I'm really honored with the prestige to be included in such an incredible group of drivers," Castroneves said after being told he beat Stewart, the 2005 Driver of the Year, and third-place Mark Martin, another NASCAR star, who had 42 points. "Honestly, it's an honor to be in an amazing group."

NASCAR's Kyle Busch also received one first-place ballot as one of 19 drivers who scored points in the second-quarter voting.

Cup star Jeff Gordon won first-quarter honors.

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FESTIVAL OF SPEED: Taylor Earnhardt, the 20-year-old daughter of the late Dale Earnhardt, will be at the wheel of her father's famed No. 3 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet for a demonstration run during this week's Goodwood Festival of Speed in England.

She will be accompanied by her mother, Teresa Earnhardt, president and CEO of Dale Earnhardt Inc., the company she and her husband founded in 1980.

The car, owned by Richard Childress Racing, is the one in which the seven-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion got his 76th and final victory at Talladega Superspeedway in the fall of 2000. It has been on display at the RCR Museum since its grand opening in May 2003.

"I was honored to be asked by Lord March to have one of the legendary RCR black No. 3 Chevrolets participate in this year's Goodwood Festival of Speed," Childress said. "This is a great opportunity to promote the legacy of Dale Earnhardt, not only in the United States but throughout the world. I also think it's great that Taylor will have the opportunity to drive the car her father made so famous."

The event has been held annually since 1993 at the Goodwood House in West Sussex. Race cars old and new participate in both demonstration and competition runs up the nine-turn, 1.16-mile hillclimb circuit. This year's gathering will include a number of stock cars in honor of the 50th anniversary of Daytona International Speedway.

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FEEDING AMERICA: The NASCAR Foundation has joined forces with Feeding America for a summer-long food drive aiming to provide 350,000 meals to American children and their families.

In partnership with Feeding America, the foundation has created several opportunities for NASCAR fans to join these efforts, including a track walk at Chicagoland Speedway and an online virtual food drive conducted throughout the summer Sprint Cup schedule.

About 17.9 million low-income children received free or reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch Program last year, but just 2 million of those children participated in the Summer Food Service Program that provides food to children during the summer months when school is out. As a result, the need at local food banks during these months increases.

The online virtual food drive begins this week and runs through Aug. 31. Fans can visit www.nascar.com/foundation to create a virtual food drive and set goals for number of meals raised.

The NASCAR Foundation Track Walk will also give fans the opportunity to walk a lap around the 1.5-mile Chicagoland oval before the Lifelock.com 400 on July 11.






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