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Hunter-Reay wins ESPY for Best Driver, first for IndyCar since 1997

Jul 18, 2013, 11:00 AM EDT

07-18-RHR-Wins-ESPY-Std

Ryan Hunter-Reay’s 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series championship has netted him one last award later in 2013 – an ESPY award for Best Driver.

The Andretti Autosport driver’s comeback in the final two races of 2012 took him past Will Power to capture his first series title. He also took home RACER Magazine’s Racer of the Year and Road Racer of the Year awards earlier this year.

Furthermore, he’s the first open-wheel driver to win the Best Driver ESPY since Jimmy Vasser in 1997. Vasser took home the CART series title for Target Chip Ganassi Racing – that team’s first ever championship – in 1996.

Hunter-Reay beat out 2013 Indianapolis 500 champion Tony Kanaan, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski and defending three-time Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel in a fan vote.

Danica Patrick, who’s unlikely to be nominated for the Best Driver ESPY anytime soon, was also on hand at the event at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles to present the Best Male Athlete award, won by LeBron James.

Jon Hamm hosted the show and Robin Roberts (Arthur Ashe Courage Award) and the father-and-son team of Dick and Rick Hoyt, veteran marathon runners from Boston, were also honored for their contributions that have transcended sports.

The ESPYs also recognized Dick Trickle, Jason Leffler and Chris Economaki in its “In Memoriam” tribute to those who have passed in the last year.

  1. midtec2005 - Jul 19, 2013 at 12:44 AM

    I’m stunned this happened actually, good news for Indycar!

  2. malkinrulez - Jul 20, 2013 at 9:57 AM

    What a joke! I’m no fan of Vettel but he clearly is the best driver as proven by winning the championship in the highest form of open wheel racing on the most demanding circuits!

  3. snoopyo - Jul 23, 2013 at 1:44 AM

    I am shocked that a nascar driver didn’t win it, but I am very happy that RHR an INDYCAR driver did win but Vettel has been the best out there for the last couple of years and he is deserving of winning it
    So glad to see RHR get some awards, praise and love for his season

  4. purplesectornet - Jul 25, 2013 at 12:04 PM

    This is just sad – yet again more Americana BS – both Vettel and Brad Keselowski are more deserving both competing in championships that are much tougher…this is why IndyCar is still in trouble – if we still have to pull these bullshit moves just to get the series some recognition….well that says it all doesn’t it?

    • lesovuls - Jul 30, 2013 at 12:22 AM

      You call winning a championship BS move. How about team orders over in F1? And you have time to go through NAPCAR, boring races(even diehard fans are bailing because its boring) phantom/debris cautions to manufacture drama with g/w/c finishes. They all were deserving but Indycar is having 2 great seasons back to back. The stands @ brickyard is telling me NAPCAR isn’t.

      • purplesectornet - Jul 31, 2013 at 11:16 AM

        Your personal distaste for two series that are both significantly more prestigious and a lot tougher to win does not change that reality.

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