The following is a release from the AMA...
Fresh off winning the 2008 AMA SPEED Athlete of the Year Award, James Stewart continues to earn recognition for one of the most successful seasons motorcycle racing has ever seen. Stewart, who won the 2008 AMA Toyota Motocross Championship presented by FMF, and helped the United States win a record 19th Motocross of Nations title, has been named one of 11 finalists for the third annual 2008 SPEED Performer of the Year Award.
The SPEED Performer of the Year is chosen from all major disciplines of motorsport and is presented with the prestigious Mario Andretti Trophy. A 15-member voting panel, which includes racing legend Andretti, has named 11 finalists for the honor. The winner will be announced as part of a one-hour television special in February 2009.
"When the AMA honored James Stewart with the AMA SPEED Athlete of the Year award, we recognized not just his standout performance in motorcycle racing, but his status as one of the top athletes in the world today," said AMA President and CEO Rob Dingman. "Although all of the nominees for SPEED Performer of the Year are incredible competitors, we humbly submit that James' historic performance this year in one of the toughest and most unpredictable racing disciplines in the world makes him a clear front-runner for this exceptional honor."
Stewart, from Haines City, Fla., won all 24 motos in the AMA Toyota Motocross Championship presented by FMF to claim the No. 1 plate. He's only the second rider in the history of the sport to accomplish this clean sweep. In addition, Stewart was part of Monster Energy's AMA Team USA three-rider crew that claimed the coveted Chamberlain Trophy at the 2008 Red Bull FIM Motocross of Nations in Donington Park, Great Britain.
In addition to Stewart, nominees for the SPEED Performer of the Year Award include NASCAR's Jimmy Johnson, Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch; NHRA's Tony Schumacher; Formula One's Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa; MotoGP's Valentino Rossi; IndyCar's Scott Dixon; World of Outlaws Donny Schatz; and USAC's Jerry Coons Jr.
The SPEED Performer of the Year will be chosen by Andretti, "Wind Tunnel" host Dave Despain, broadcasters Bob Varsha and Ralph Shaheen, SPEEDtv.com's Robin Miller and Tom Jensen, and racers Tommy Kendall and Dorsey Schroeder.
The SPEED Performance Awards include nine awards that are determined by fan vote. Stewart also is eligible for the "Best Move" award. AMA members and motocross fans should vote for James Stewart and his "best move" by visiting www.speedperformanceawards.com.