IRL Drivers Recognized

Sam Hornish Jr.’s history-making, title-winning performance in the Indy Racing League this past season has him in position to receive one of the most prestigious awards in motorsports.

Hornish, 22, leads the open-wheel nominations for the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association’s Auto Racing All-America Team. CART champ Gil de Ferran, rumored to be on his way to the IRL next season, shares top billing with Hornish in the open-wheel category.

Other open-wheel drivers receiving nominations were IRL runner-up Buddy Lazier, third-place finisher Scott Sharp, Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves and former IRL champ and current CART driver Kenny Brack.

The All-America Team will be made up of two drivers from each of six categories – drag racing, open wheel, stock car, road racing, short track and at large. A second all-star team will be made up two other drivers from each category. The remaining drivers are eligible for an honorable mention.

Members of the motorsports press will determine the teams, and the driver receiving the most votes will receive the Jerry Titus Award as Driver of the Year.

Hornish won three races this past season on the way to the IRL title. He also finished in the Top 10 in 12 of the IRL’s 13 races. In addition, he became the youngest race winner ever and youngest title-winner ever. In the season-finale, he won the closest IRL race ever at Texas Motor Speedway, where predecessor Scott Goodyear won a year earlier.

Lazier, the 2000 IRL champ, finished as runner-up in the IRL standings this past season and at one point won four of five races. He also had four other top-10 finishes.

Sharp finished third in points on the strength of one win, six top-five finishes and three other top-10 finishes. He also won three poles, including a hard-to-come-by Indianapolis 500 pole.

Other All-America nominees include NASCAR drivers Jeff Gordon, former IRL champion Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Dale Jarrett and Ricky Rudd in the stock-car category.

The drag racing nominees are Kenny Bernstein, John Force, Larry Dixon, Warren Johnson, Clay Millican and Gene Wilson. In road racing, Paul Gentilozzi, Chris Bingham, Terry Borcheller, Larry Oberto, Emmanuele Pirro and James Weaver were nominated.

The short-track nominees are Danny Lasoski, Brendan Gaughan, Frank Kimmel, Johnny Sauter and Jack Sprague. Townsend Bell, Doug Goad, Rob MacCachren, Hoover Orsi, Scott Taylor and Mike Janis are the at-large nominees.

The teams will be unveiled during an AARWBA banquet in January.

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