I agree with Statt Mann that Tony Stewart should be at the top of anyone's list for 2004 Driver of the Year.  Stewart epitomizes the driver as a social being.  This is a list of Stewart's known accomplishments in 2004:

Sixth in NASCAR's final points standings
One of the final ten in the inaugural Chase for the Nextel Cup
Two Nextel Cup wins including the road course at Watkins Glen
He drove the wheels off the Crawford Daytona Prototype at the Rolex 24 coming within 20 minutes of winning the event overall only losing when the broken suspension he was nursing finally surrendered leaving the car inoperable on the racetrack
He was more than competitive leading the world's best sports car drivers while driving at night and in the rain for the first time
He purchased Eldora Speedway keeping that legendary facility in operation
The Tony Stewart Racing Enterprises team wrapped up the 2004 season with honors including the USAC Sprint Car title for Jay Drake

He was named USA WEEKEND's Most Caring Athlete of 2004 along with Kyle Petty for their work to create the Victory Junction Gang Camp.
He donated more than $1.2 million to the Camp
He promoted a summer concert that raised nearly another half million dollars for the camp

And none of this includes his commitment to support dozens of greyhounds rescued from dog tracks and several larger animals housed in public zoos round the nation.

All of this happened in 2004 while he adjusted to losing his team owner to the NFL and losing his personal pilot in the Hendrick Plane tragedy in the Virginia mountains.

It baffles me to hear people criticize Stewart for bumping into someone on a racetrack when he's bumped into so many lives in the real world and left them better because of his involvement.

Fred Chris