All Americans: Lazier Cheever
December 12, 2000 | 12:00 A.M. EST
On Monday, Lazier was one of two drivers selected to the All-America Auto Racing Team, making him eligible for the Jerry Titus award as driver of the year.
"I feel very proud of that award," Lazier said. "The people who vote on this cover racing full time. They know the sport. It's a special award coming from some very race-savvy people.
"I'm very honored."
CART FedEx Championship Series titleholder Gil de Ferran was the other open-wheel representative on the All-America team.
The 12-member first team, selected by the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association, is made up of two drivers from each auto racing category -- open wheel, road racing, short track, stock car, drag racing and at-large.
This is the second time Lazier has won the honor. The 33-year-old from Vail, Colo., was also named to the All-America team in 1996 when he won the Indianapolis 500.
In 2000, however, it was the IRNLS title and two victories that earned Lazier the title. He wasn’t the only IRNLS driver singled out by the writers and broadcasters, however. Eddie Cheever Jr. was named to the second team, as was this year’s Indianapolis 500 winner Juan Montoya.
"We had a very good year with Excite@Home and Infiniti. Even though I was in the running for the championship in both series that I competed in -- Indy Racing and IROC -- I can see that the only way to get on the All-America first team is to win a series title," Cheever said. "I'm honored that this is my fifth time on the second team, but next year I'm aiming to accommodate my journalist friends and make it on to the first team."
Lazier won the IRNLS title, his first, by 18 points over Scott Goodyear. Cheever was third, 15 points behind Goodyear. Lazier won twice and was runner-up three times during the nine-race season. He led 242 laps in six races, second in that category, and also picked up one pole position. At Indianapolis, Lazier finished second to Montoya.
Cheever’s All-America campaign included one win and 1711 laps completed, second in the league. He led six races for a total of 93 laps.
Lazier and the other first-teamers, including NASCAR Winston Cup champion Bobby Labonte, NHRA Top Fuel champion Gary Scelzi, NHRA Funny Car champion John Force and World of Outlaws champion Steve Kinser, will be honored at the annual AARWBA banquet on Jan. 13 in Pomona, Calif., where the winner of the Titus Award will be announced.