NEW YORK (AP) _ Dale Jarrett, who is going for a $1 million bonus this weekend in the Southern 500 at Darlington, S.C., led the third-quarter balloting for 1996 Driver of the Year.

During the quarter, Jarrett won two races, including the prestigious Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis, and thrust himself solidly back into the NASCAR Winston Cup points race.

The son of two-time Winston Cup champion and Hall of Famer Ned Jarrett drew eight of 12 first-place votes and a total of 94 points from a national panel of motorsports writers and broadcasters, who will choose the Driver of the Year in November.

``I've had a tremendous year so far and this just makes it even more incredible,'' said Jarrett, who began the year by winning his second Daytona 500.

Second-place in third-quarter voting went to John Force, the five-time NHRA Funny Car champion who has won 10 of 13 events this season. He received two first-place votes and 65 points.

Indy-car driver Alex Zanardi, a rookie from Italy, finished third in the voting with 39 points. Zanardi's finishes in the quarter, including a win at Mid-Ohio, moved him into third place in the PPG Cup standings behind leader Jimmy Vasser, winner of the first quarter voting, and Michael Andretti, winner of the second-quarter votin.

Mark Kinser, a competitor in the World of Outlaws open-wheel series, received the other two first-place votes and totaled 25 points, tying for fourth place with Winston Cup points leader Terry Labonte.

Others receiving votes included SCCA Trans-Am leader Dorsey Schroeder and runner-up Tommy Kendall, NASCAR stars Rusty Wallace, Ernie Irvan and Mark Martin, drag racers Warren Johnson and Shelly Anderson, Indy Racing League star Tony Stewart and NASCAR supertruck competitor Mike Skinner.

The Driver of the Year Award began in 1967.