Johnson wins Driver of the Year award

Five-time defending NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson beat out NHRA Funny Car champion John Force for the Driver of the Year award on Wednesday.

It’s the fourth time Johnson has received the honor, tying him with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon for most wins in the award’s 44-year history.

”It’s an honor to win the award again,” Johnson said. ”Among such tough competition, with the voting panel, who it is and how well versed they are in motorsports, it’s a huge, huge honor.”

Journalists and broadcasters from across the country vote for Driver of the Year; any driver from any series that competes on four wheels in the United States is eligible. Past winners include Mario Andretti, Richard Petty, Darrell Waltrip, Dale Earnhardt and Bobby Rahal.

Johnson received 10 votes to beat Force, who received seven votes. NASCAR driver Kyle Busch received one vote.

”This year’s pre-vote teleconference was one of the most spirited debates that I can recall,” said panelist president Barry Schmoyer. ”As many people have said already, it will be a long time before anyone will set the bar as high as Jimmie Johnson.”