INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, Dec. 10, 2001 - Five of the six open-wheel racing drivers named to the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association's 2001 All-America Racing Team will compete full time in the 2002 Indy Racing League season, and all six are expected to compete in the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race.
Drivers Sam Hornish Jr., Gil de Ferran, Helio Castroneves, Buddy Lazier and Scott Sharp will be among the leading drivers in what should be the most competitive Indy Racing season to date, consisting of 15 races beginning March 2 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, highlighted by the 86th Indianapolis 500 on May 26 and concluding Sept. 15 at Texas Motor Speedway.
AARWBA's First Team Open Wheel drivers, Hornish and de Ferran, will drive for Indy Racing's Pennzoil Panther Racing team and Marlboro Team Penske, respectively. Hornish won the 2001 Indy Racing championship at age 22 and in his first season with Panther and only his second in the series.
Hornish clinched the Indy Racing championship by scoring three wins, 11 top-five finishes and completing 2,643 of 2,650 possible laps. de Ferran won his second-consecutive CART series championship in 2001 thanks to two wins and 15 top-10 finishes in 20 races. He also finished second to Penske Racing teammate Castroneves in the 85th Indianapolis 500 on May 27.
Castroneves, named to AARWBA's second team, will join Penske Racing teammate de Ferran for the 2002 Indy Racing season. Castroneves etched his name among the legends of motorsport by winning the 2001 Indianapolis 500 and finished fourth in the CART season point standings. 1999 Indianapolis 500 winner and 1998 Indy Racing League champion Kenny Brack was also named to AARWBA's open wheel second team. Although Brack is scheduled to compete full time in the 2002 CART series with Target/Chip Ganassi Racing, team owner Chip Ganassi has made a verbal commitment to compete in the Indy Racing-sanctioned Indianapolis 500 for the third consecutive year.
Indy Racing stalwarts Lazier and Sharp were named to AARWBA's All-America open wheel racing third team. Lazier, 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner, captured the Indy Racing League championship in 2000 and drove the No. 91 Hemelgarn Racing Tae-Bo/Coors Light/Delta Faucet entry to a second-place finish in 2001.
Sharp, driver of the No. 8 Delphi Automotive Systems car for Kelley Racing, earned one victory in 2001 and three poles - including the prestigious MBNA Pole Award for the Indianapolis 500. Sharp was co-champion of the inaugural Indy Racing season in 1996.