2005 AUTO RACING ALL-AMERICA TEAM IS LARGEST EVER SELECTED
BURBANK, Calif. -
A 17-member Auto Racing All-America Team, the largest ever selected, has been chosen by voting members of the motorsports press.
The champions of NASCAR Nextel Cup, IndyCar, Champ Car, NHRA Top Fuel and the World of Outlaws were among the top vote-getters. One of them will be announced as the winner of the Jerry Titus Award -- an auto racing equivalent of the Heisman Trophy -- at the annual banquet of the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association Dec. 3 in Indianapolis.
The voters elect two drivers to the First Team in each of seven categories -- Open Wheel, Stock Car, Road Racing, Drag Racing, Short Track, Touring Series and At Large. Last year AARWBA decided that endurance racing co-drivers with virtually identical records would be on the ballot as one, and three such pairs were elected this year to create the 17-driver team. Drivers placing third and fourth in the vote comprise the Second Team, while all others receiving at least a 5 percent vote earn Honorable Mention.
Champ Car's Sébastien Bourdais and IndyCar's Dan Wheldon gained First Team honors in the Open Wheel category. Bourdais won his championship for the second straight year. Wheldon won an IRL record six races, including the Indianapolis 500. Joining IRL runner-up Tony Kanaan (last year's Titus Award winner) on the second team was femme phenom Danica Patrick, who made the team on write-in votes. Patrick is the 11th driver to earn All-America status on write-ins, but the first ever to rise higher than Honorable Mention.
With NASCAR's Nextel Cup still having two races to go, AARWBA voters chose the top two points leaders, Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson to lead the Stock Car category. Fast-closing Carl Edwards and his Roush Racing teammate Mark Martin made Second Team.
Named as the Road Racing representatives were the top two Daytona Prototype pairs in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series -- champions Max Angelelli/Wayne Taylor and runners-up Scott Pruett/Luis Diaz. Second team honors went to the top two GT1 teams from the American Le Mans Series, Oliver Gavin/Olivier Beretta and Ron Fellows/Johnny O'Connell.
The Drag Racing category may have been the most difficult for the voters. While NHRA Top Fuel champ Tony Schumacher was an easy choice, the tightest 3-way Funny Car race in NHRA history -- not decided until after most had voted -- meant five-time winner John Force made First Team for the 13th time. The Funny Car champion, three-time winner Gary Scelzi, was joined by the Pro Stock champ Greg Anderson on the second team.
Steve Kinser, on the heels of his 20th World of Outlaws crown, easily swept the Short Track category for the 18th time on the First Team and 23rd time as an All-America, both the records. Joining Kinser was USAC Silver Crown champion Dave Steele. Second team honors went to two more USAC drivers, sprint car points leader Levi Jones and midget champion Josh Wise.
The Touring Series category was swept by Frank Kimmel, winner of a record seventh ARCA championship, and NASCAR Busch Series points leader Martin Truex Jr. Chosen for second team were Truex's closest Busch pursuer Clint Bowyer and Craftsman Truck points leader Ted Musgrave.
Road racers and an off-road racer topped the At Large category. Rob MacCachren, on pace to win championships in both SCORE desert racing and the Best in the Desert series, is joined by American Le Mans GT2 class champions Patrick Long/Jorg Bergmeister. A tie in the voting involving a co- driver pair resulted in four drivers making Second Team -- Toyota Atlantic Champion Charles Zwolsman, IHRA Alcohol Funny Car champion Rob Atchison, and the Grand-Am Cup champions in the Sport Touring class David Haskell/Sylvain Tremblay.
Earning Honorable Mention were Dario Franchitti, Sam Hornish Jr. and Paul Tracy in Open Wheel; Greg Biffle and Ryan Newman in Stock Car; Frank Biela/Emanuele Pirro, Klaus Graf and Greg Pickett in Road Racing; Ron Capps and Clay Millican in Drag Racing; Steve Francis and Damion Gardner in Short Track, Ted Christopher and Dennis Setzer in Touring Series; Katherine Legge, Carl Renezeder and Steve Torrence in At Large.
Information on the All-America Banquet, which is open to the public, is available from AARWBA at 818-842-7005 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
<pre> FIRST TEAM
OPEN WHEEL: Sébastien Bourdais, Dan Wheledon STOCK CAR: Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart ROAD RACING: Max Angelelli/Wayne Taylor, Scott Pruett/Luis Diaz DRAG RACING: John Force, Tony Schumacher SHORT TRACK: Steve Kinser, Dave Steele TOURING SERIES: Frank Kimmel, Martin Truex Jr. AT LARGE: Patrick Long/Jorg Bergmeister, Rob MacCachren
OPEN WHEEL: Tony Kanaan, *Danica Patrick STOCK CAR: Carl Edwards, Mark Martin ROAD RACING: Ron Fellows/Johnny O'Connell, Oliver Gavin,Olivier Beretta DRAG RACING: Greg Anderson, Gary Scelzi SHORT TRACK: Levi Jones, Josh Wise TOURING SERIES: Clint Bowyer, Ted Musgrave AT LARGE: Rob Atchison and David Haskell/Sylvain Tremblay (tie), Charles Zwolsman
HONORABLE MENTION (At least 5% of the vote)
OPEN WHEEL: Dario Franchitti, Sam Hornish Jr., Paul Tracy STOCK CAR: Greg Biffle, Ryan Newman ROAD RACING: Frank Biela/Emanuele Pirro, Klaus Graf, Greg Pickett DRAG RACING: Ron Capps, Clay Millican SHORT TRACK: Steve Francis, Damion Gardner TOURING SERIES: Ted Christopher, Dennis Setzer AT LARGE: *Katherine Legge, Carl Renezeder, Steve Torrence
* on write-in vote