BURBANK, Calif. - Voting has begun among almost 300 members of the motorsports press to select the 2004 Auto Racing All-America team.
Among those on the ballot are former Jerry Titus Award winners John Force (1996, 1999, 2000, 2002), Jeff Gordon (1995, 1998, 2001), and Tommy Kendall (1997) -- that is every one from 1995 to 2002 -- as well as the driver who has been All-American more than any other, Steve Kinser, who seeks his 22nd All-America selection. Also on the ballot seeking selection in one of seven categories -- Open Wheel, Stock Car, Road Racing, Drag Racing, Short Track, Touring Series and At Large -- are 16 drivers who could be making their first-ever All-American appearance.
Members of the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association, will vote from among six drivers named in each category. This year a change in the voting method puts 44 drivers on the ballot instead of 42 -- in road racing co-drivers who were teammates with virtually identical records are voted as one.
Two from each category will be named to the first team, to be honored at the annual AARWBA banquet Jan. 15 in Pomona, Calif. The winner of the Jerry Titus Award will also be announced at the banquet. The Titus Award honors the team's top driver - the one earning the most votes in the balloting regardless of category.
The balloting will also determine a second team of the drivers placing third and fourth in each category, and honorable mentions to all other drivers receiving at least 5 percent of the vote. AARWBA members have annually chosen an All-America Auto Racing Team since 1970.
The banquet, which also kicks off AARWBA's 50th anniversary, is open to the public. Ticket information is available from AARWBA, 922 N. Pass Ave., Burbank, Calif. 91505, or call (818) 842-7005.
The drivers listed below are on the 2003 All-America ballot. Numbers in parentheses indicate previous times elected to first team/second team/honorable mention; *** indicates first time on ballot.
<pre> OPEN WHEEL RACING Sebastien Bourdais (0/0/1) ChampCar champion, seven victories Bruno Junqueira (***) Second in ChampCar, two victories Tony Kanaan (***) IRL IndyCar champion, three victories Buddy Rice (1/0/0) Indianapolis 500 pole and winner, Third in IndyCars, two other victories Paul Tracy (3/1/3) Fourth in ChampCar, two victories Dan Wheldon (0/1/0) Second in IndyCar, three victories
STOCK CAR Kurt Busch (0/1/0) Nextel Cup champion, three victories Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2/1/1) Fifth in Nextel Cup, six victories include Daytona 500, two Busch series victories Jeff Gordon (8/1/1) Third in Nextel Cup, just 16 points behind, five victories including a fourth Brickyard 400 Jimmie Johnson (0/1/1) Second in Nextel Cup jut 8 points behind, eight victories Kasey Kahne (0/1/0 Nextel Cup Rookie of the Year, two Craftsman Truck victories Mark Martin (4/4/4) Fourth in Nextel Cup, one victory
ROAD RACING Ron Fellows (2/2/2) American LeMans GTS champion, five victories Paul Gentilozzi (3/1/0) SCCA Trans-Am Champion, five victories Ian James (***) American LeMans Series P2 champion, three victories; one Sport Touring victory in Grand-Am Cup Tommy Kendall (6/3/0) SCCA Trans-Am runner-up, two victories, tied Gentilozzi on points. JJ Lehto (***) American Le Mans P1 co-champion, six victories Marco Werner (0/0/1) American Le Mans P1 co-champion, six victories Max Papis (***) Grand-Am Daytona Prototype co-champion, four victories Scott Pruett (5/1/1) Grand-Am Daytona Prototype co-champion, four victories
DRAG RACING Greg Anderson (0/1/0) NHRA Pro Stock champion, 15 wins in 19 finals (both all-time NHRA records) John Force (11/1/0) NHRA Funny Car Champion, five victories, his 13th championship Jason Line (***) Second in NHRA Pro Stock, four victories, rookie of the year Clay Millican (0/1/1) IHRA Top Fuel champ (fourth straight), seven victories Gary Scelzi (3/1/0) Third in NHRA Funny Cars, three victories Tony Schumacher (1/0/0) NHRA Top Fuel champion, 10 victories (Top Fuel record)
SHORT TRACK Jay Drake (0/0/1) USAC Sprint Car Champion, four victories; also three Silver Crown victories Bobby East (***) USAC Midget Champion, seven victories; also won in Sprints (5), Silver Crown (1), three other USAC series Chad Kemenah (0/0/1) All-Star Sprints champion, six victories Steve Kinser (16/1/4) World of Outlaws champion, 17 feature wins, 19th championship Danny Lasoski (1/0/0) Second in World of Outlaws, nine victories Dave Steele (***) USAC Silver Crown champion, two victories; also won in USAC Sprints (2) and Midgets (3), plus TBARA (3) TOURING SERIES Kyle Busch (***) Second in NASCAR Busch Series, five victories, rookie of the year Benny Gordon (***) Leader in USAR Hooters Cup, 2 victories; USAR Northern champion, four victories Bobby Hamilton (***) NASCAR Craftsman Truck champion, four victories Frank Kimmel (1/0/4) Won sixth ARCA championship, six victories Andy Santerre (0/1/0) NASCAR Busch North champion, five victories Martin Truex Jr (***) NASCAR Busch Series champion, six victories
AT LARGE Bill Auberlen (0/2/0) Grand-Am GT champion, eight victories; SCCA World Challenge Touring Car champion, three victories Jon Fogarty (***) Formula Atlantic Champion, six victories Rob MacCachren (1/0/0) SNORE champion, five victories; won four in BitD, four in SCORE including Baja 1000 Thiago Medeiros (***) IRL Infiniti Pro Series champion, six victories Patrick Richard (***) SCCA Pro Rally champion, three outright victories in a Group N car (not the top class). Scott Speed (***) won two European Formula Renault championships, four German Series victories, eight Eurocup victories