Upon placing my votes for this year's ESPY awards on ESPN.com, I just about fell out of my chair when I saw the nominees for Best Driver. The list is as follows, along with their most ESPY-worthy accomplishments:
- Dario Franchitti - Won 2007 Indy 500, 2007 IRL Points Leader
- Jeff Gordon - 2007 Nextel Cup Points Leader
- Jimmie Johnson - 2006 Nextel Cup Winner
- Kevin Harvick - 2007 Daytona 500 Winner
- Sam Hornish Jr - 2006 IRL Season Champion (per winning a tie break with Dan Wheldon)
- Tony Schumacher - In 2006, Won 3rd Straight NHRA Powerade Series Top Fuel World Championship
So they covered the IRL, NASCAR, and NHRA. Now, are they not aware of the two fastest open wheel road course series in the world? I am of course referring to Formula One and Champ Car.
It's an absolute outrage to leave Sebastien Bourdais off of this list. In his 62 Champ Car race career, he has finished on the podium 36 times, 23 of those being victories. He is the three time defending Champ Car World Series Champion, and is currently tied for the lead in the 2007 season. He is still the heavy favorite to win the 2007 Series Title. Recently he placed second on a team of three drivers in the 24 Hours of le Mans. The guy is an incredible driver.
Now for my Formula One pick for who got snubbed, it gets slightly more complicated. The current list of nominees includes both 2006 series champions as well as 2007 points leaders. I feel ESPN should have chosen a season and stuck to it. In team sports, there are no awards given to nominees from seperate seasons. The idea is preposterous. They should give awards for completed seasons.
With that said, I feel that the Formula One nominee should be Fernando Alonso, the two time defending Formula One World Driver's Champion. If we stick to the current two season format of nominees, Lewis Hamilton would earn a spot on the list. In every one of his 8 rookie season races thus far in 2007, he has finished on the podium. He has earned two pole positions, both races ending with Hamilton atop the podium. The kid is amazing and will dominate Formula One for years to come.
In conclusion, I beg ESPN to rethink their nominees. There are still two weeks until the award show. I would suggest removing the least accomplished driver on this list, Kevin Harvick, immediately. Also up for dismissal should be Dario Franchitti and Jeff Gordon. Let them earn their spots on next year's ballot. For now, I urge ESPN to add Sebastien Bourdais (who should win in a landslide based on dominance), Fernando Alonso, and Dan Wheldon. Why Wheldon? He finished in a tie with Hornish for the lead in the 2006 IRL Series.
Until the drivers who are actually the best are represented in the ESPYs, I'll struggle with separating it from all other commercially-driven award shows.