Fifteen drivers named to 2003 Auto Racing All-America Team.

BURBANK, Calif - Series champions ran second to hard-charging challengers in two categories of the 2003 Auto Racing All-America Team chosen by members of the motorsports press.

The addition of a new category for Touring Series drivers, plus a tie vote in the Open Wheel category, created a 15-driver team for the first time in the 34 years it has been named by the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association. Two drivers from each of the seven categories are named to the First Team, the next two to Second Team and all others receiving a 5% vote earn Honorable Mention.

In the Open Wheel, Indianapolis 500 winner Gil de Ferran outpolled the champions of both CART and IRL. CART champion Paul Tracy and IRL champion Scott Dixon tied in the voting to place all three drivers on the First Team. It is deFerran's third First-Team selection, his fifth as an All-American. Dixon was previously elected once before, his previous in 2000 when he was CART Indy Lights champion. For Tracy, it is his third First-Team choice, but his first in 10-years since his rookie season on the CART circuit.

The Stock Car category had a similar outcome when eight-time winner Ryan Newman received the most votes in the category, ahead of NASCAR Winston Cup champion Matt Kenseth. It was the first time for each to be voted to the First Team. Newman was Second Team twice previously, and Kenseth was HM last year.

Road Racing also saw a long-absent racer return to the First Team. Trans-Am champion Scott Pruett, a seven-time All-America, won his fifth First-Team vote, but his first since his 1994 Trans-Am title. He is joined by six-time All-American Ron Fellows, the American LeMans Series GTS champion, who was named First Team for a second straight year.

The Drag Racing category is led by NHRA's Top Fuel and Funny Car champions, Larry Dixon and Tony Pedregon, who tied in the voting. Dixon, taking his second consecutive championship, also won his second-straight First Team honor. Pedregon, who ended the 10-year championship streak of his boss, John Force, also broke Force's similar 10-year First Team streak.

Short Track, which previously comprised both open wheel and stock car series, now is strictly for open wheel racers and was dominated by USAC triple crown champion J.J. Yeley and World of Outlaws king Steve Kinser, the same two as a year ago. Yeley, winning the Silver Crown, Sprint and Midget titles as well as setting a new USAC season victory record of 24 wins, is an All-America for just the second time. Kinser, however, upon winning his 18th WoO title, extended his own absolute All-America records - 16th time on the First Team and the 21st time overall.

The new Touring Series category for several stock car-based series was won for the first time by Brian Vickers, the NASCAR Busch Series champion, and Frank Kimmel, the five-time ARCA champion. Both are First Team for the first time. Vickers had never been chosen to the team before, but Kimmel, previously having to fight the likes of Steve Kinser for a place on the team, has been a four-time Honorable Mention.

The champions of two open-wheel feeder series, both putting up seven- win seasons, top the At Large category. A.J. Allmendinger, the CART Toyota Atlantic Champion, and Mark Taylor, the IRL Infiniti Pro Series Champion, each earned their initial All-America and First Team honors.

Drivers named to the Second Team included IRL's Sam Hornish Jr. in Open Wheel, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. from NASCAR Winston Cup in Stock Car, ALMS Prototype champion Frank Biela and Grand-Am Prototype champion Terry Borcheller in Road Racing. Greg Anderson, who rewrote the NHRA Pro Stock record book, and Kenny Bernstein, who won four times as a Top Fuel substitute for his injured son after retiring last year, were named in Drag Racing. Second Team in Short Track were WoO's Danny Lasoski and USAC's Tracy Hines. NASCAR's Grand National champs took the Touring Series places - Scott Lynch from Winston West and Andy Santerre from Busch North. The At Large Second Team is Frank Manzo, NHRA Alcohol Funny Car champion, and David Higgins, the SCCA Pro Rally champion.

Earning Honorable Mention were Sebastien Bourdais from CART, Jeff Gordon and Kevin Harvick from NASCAR Winston Cup, Tommy Riggins from Grand- Am GTS, Marco Werner from ALMS Prototypes, Doug Kalitta from NHRA Top Fuel, Clay Millican from IHRA Top Fuel, Chad Kemenah from the All Star Circuit of Champions, Kevin Cywinski from ASA stock cars, Shane Huffman from the USAR Hooters Cup, Scott Taylor from CORR short-course off-road, and Cort Wagner from Grand-Am GT.

The AARWBA Auto Racing All-America Team will be honored Jan. 10 at the 34th annual AARWBA banquet at the Sheraton Suites in Pomona, Calif. First-team members will receive the distinctive Horsepower Award, and the driver who received the most votes -- not revealed until the banquet -- receives the Jerry Titus Award emblematic of the team's Driver of the Year. For banquet information, contact AARWBA President Dusty Brandel, 818-842-7005 or aarwba@compuserve.com <pre> The 2003 All-America Team:

FIRST TEAM OPEN WHEEL: Gil de Ferran, Scott Dixon & Paul Tracy (tie) STOCK CAR: Ryan Newman, Matt Kenseth ROAD RACING: Scott Pruett, Ron Fellows DRAG RACING: Larry Dixon, Tony Pedregon SHORT TRACK: J.J. Yeley, Steve Kinser TOURING SERIES: Brian Vickers, Frank Kimmel AT LARGE: A.J. Allmendinger, Mark Taylor

SECOND TEAM OPEN WHEEL: Sam Hornish STOCK CAR: Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr ROAD RACING: Frank Biela, Terry Borcheller DRAG RACING: Greg Anderson, Kenny Bernstein SHORT TRACK: Danny Lasoski, Tracy Hines TOURING SERIES: Scott Lynch, Andy Santerre AT LARGE: Frank Manzo, David Higgins

HONORABLE MENTION OPEN WHEEL: Sébastien Bourdais STOCK CAR: Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick ROAD RACING: Tommy Riggins, Marco Werner DRAG RACING: Doug Kalitta, Clay Millican SHORT TRACK: Chad Kemenah TOURING SERIES: Kevin Cywinski, Shane Huffman AT LARGE: Scott Taylor, Cort Wagner

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