Drivers nominated for AARWBA honors

Seven Rolex Series Drivers on Ballot for 2006 AARWBA Auto Racing All-America Team DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (November 28, 2006) -- Led by 2006 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve Daytona Prototype...

Seven Rolex Series Drivers on Ballot for 2006 AARWBA Auto Racing All-America Team

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (November 28, 2006) -- Led by 2006 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve Daytona Prototype champion Jörg Bergmeister, seven Rolex Series drivers have been listed on the ballot for the 2006 American Auto Racing Writers & Broadcasters Association (AARWBA) Auto Racing All-America Team.

Bergmeister, who won three races en route to his first Daytona Prototype title in 2006, is joined on the ballot by 2006 Daytona Prototype runners-up Scott Pruett and Luis Diaz, 2005 Daytona Prototype co-champion Max Angelelli--who finished third in the Daytona Prototype championship--and Bergmeister's No. 76 Krohn Racing Ford Riley co-driver for all but three races, Colin Braun. All five of the Daytona Prototype drivers have been nominated in the Road Racing category. Andy Lally and Marc Bunting--who earned five class victories en route to the 2006 Rolex Series GT championship--are listed as nominees in the At Large category.

Bergmeister earned the Daytona Prototype title on the strength of victories in the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen, the Brumos Porsche 250 at Daytona International Speedway and the Porsche 250 presented by Bradley Arant at Barber Motorsports Park, and did not finish worse than ninth in any feature race in 2006.

Diaz and Pruett, who are considered one entry by AARWBA as they competed together in every Rolex Series race in 2006, led the series with five victories in the No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing. The duo tied the series record for most overall wins in a single season on the strength of victories in the Mexico City 250, the Crown Royal Grand American Challenge of Long Beach, the GAINSCO Grand Prix at Phoenix International Raceway, the Crown Royal 200 at The Glen and the Sonoma 250 at Infineon Raceway.

After finishing eighth or worse in the first four races of the 2006 Rolex Series season, Angelelli came on strong in his Daytona Prototype title defense, taking top-four results in every race from Round 5 at Virginia International Raceway through Round 13 at Sonoma to remain in mathematical contention for the title heading into the nine-hour season finale at Miller Motorsports Park. Angelelli's lone victory of the 2006 season came in the Road & Track 250 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, where he shared the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley with Danish racer Jan Magnussen.

Braun made a big splash in his first season of Daytona Prototype competition in 2006 at the age of 17. Like his No. 76 Ford Riley co-driver, Braun never finished lower than ninth and celebrated back-to-back victories in the Brumos Porsche 250 and the Porsche 250 presented by Bradley Arant. He also earned his first Rolex Series pole position at Barber Motorsports Park.

Like Pruett and Diaz in the Road Racing category, No. 65 TRG/iRise Pontiac GTO.R co-drivers Bunting and Lally are also considered one entry in the At Large category. The duo earned its second Rolex Series championship in three seasons in 2006, taking the GT title two years after sharing the one and only Super Grand Sport (SGS) class title. Lally and Bunting led the GT class with victories in the VIR 400, the Rolex GT Series Challenge at Lime Rock Park, the Brumos Porsche 250, the Porsche 250 presented by Bradley Arant and the nine-hour Discount Tire Sunchaser season finale at Miller Motorsports Park. They finished on the class podium in 11 of 13 races and came home inside the top-four spots in all but one race.

Pruett ranks among the top-10 in All-America first-team selections with seven and is looking to make the first team for the fourth-consecutive year. Diaz and Angelelli earned their maiden All-America first team in 2005, while Bunting and Lally are looking for their first selection to the All-America Team in 2006.

In addition to the full-time Rolex Series competitors, a host of nominees in other categories have strong Rolex Series ties. The six nominees in the Open Wheel category are Dan Wheldon, who claimed an overall victory in the 2006 Rolex 24 At Daytona, A.J. Allmendinger and Justin Wilson, who finished second to the team that included Wheldon, three-time Champ Car World Series champion Sebastien Bourdais, who competed in both the 2005 and 2006 Rolex 24 races, as well as three-time Indy Racing League champion and 2006 Indy 500 winner Sam Hornish Jr. and two-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves, who will share the same car in the 2007 Rolex 24 At Daytona.

Four of the six nominees in the Stock Car category also have Rolex Series experience. Two-time NASCAR Cup champion Tony Stewart has made nine Rolex Series starts, while 2006 NEXTEL Cup champion Jimmie Johnson participated twice in the Rolex 24 At Daytona with a best result of second in 2005. Recent comments attributed to Johnson indicate that the newly-crowned champion may once again participate in the Rolex 24 in 2007. Matt Kenseth competed in the 2005 Rolex 24 and Kevin Harvick drove in the twice-around-the-clock race in 2002.

All but one of the nominees in the Road Racing category has raced in the Rolex Series. Olivier Beretta made two Rolex Series starts and earned an overall victory in the 2000 Rolex 24 At Daytona, while Oliver Gavin has two victories from 17 career Rolex Series appearances. Allan McNish has driven in three Rolex Series events, including the 2006 Rolex 24 At Daytona in which he shared the No. 2 Callaway Golf Pontiac Crawford with 1989 NASCAR Cup champion Rusty Wallace, IndyCar star Danica Patrick and Dutch sports car ace Jan Lammers.

The drivers who are selected to the first team will be honored at the annual AARWBA banquet on January 13 in Indianapolis. The driver earning the most votes will earn the prestigious Jerry Titus Award at the banquet.

-credit: garra

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Series Grand-Am
Drivers Jan Lammers , Matt Kenseth , Tony Stewart , Rusty Wallace , Justin Wilson , Allan McNish , Kevin Harvick , Helio Castroneves , Scott Pruett , Colin Braun , Jimmie Johnson , Luis Diaz , Dan Wheldon , Oliver Gavin , Jörg Bergmeister , Sébastien Bourdais , Max Angelelli , A.J. Allmendinger , Marc Bunting , Chip Ganassi , Olivier Beretta , Sam Hornish Jr. , Danica Patrick
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Krohn Racing