SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (Dec. 13, 2006) -- You know you've had a good year if someone decides to invent an award just to honor you.

That's what happened for Axel 'Chen' Rodriguez here Tuesday: In recognition of his stunning accomplishments during the 2006 racing season, the American GT Road Racing Association honored him with its first Crew Chief of the Year Award. The AGTRRA sanctions the American GT Challenge road racing series.

Rodriguez was the crew chief for two cars during the 2006 AGT season and they fared pretty well. Edison Lluch, driving a Rodriguez-prepared car, won his second consecutive driving championship in the American GT Challenge series and Edison Lluch Jr., driving the second car prepped by Rodriguez and crew, finished second in points and captured the Rookie of the Year Award.

"All of us with the American GT Road Racing Association were so impressed by Chen's effort that we decided to institute an award for Crew Chief of the Year" said Tony Febles, Director of Operations for the sanctioning body. "You can't do any better, unless you race three cars."

The task of keeping both cars in racing trim was daunting. A normal maintenance program for two cars at this level of sophistication has a busy schedule. And early in the season, when Lluch Jr. was still acclimating to the AGT level, Rodriguez and his crew had to occasionally eradicate evidence of Lluch Jr.'s youthful enthusiasm.

"If this was easy, we wouldn't have to give out an award," said series owner Woodson Duncan. "Chen is one of the most popular regulars in the paddock. He is always busy, always smiling and always available to help. When Tony suggested honoring Chen for his accomplishments, they were so complete that we had to come up with something new. Crew Chief of the Year was what we went with. However, we may only offer the award when this accomplishment is met or exceeded. I hope everyone joins The American GT Road Racing Association in wishing Chen all the best again in 2007."

Rodriguez received the award during the Federacion Interamericana de Peroidistas del Automovil's annual Driver of the Year banquet.

More information on the American GT Road Racing Association and the AGT Challenge is available at

-credit: agt