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Franchitti, Power get 'All-America' team nod
7 December 2011
Dario Franchitti and Will Power's dominance of US open wheel racing in 2011 has been recognised by the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association, who have elected both men to their annual "All-America Team" line-up.
Franchitti ended the season as a three-time IZOD IndyCar Series champion, narrowly beating Will Power despite the Australian's haul of 11 pole positions and six race wins, and a dominant performance on road courses. Both drivers were similarly elected to the "All-America Team" last year, and this is Franchitti's fourth appearance in total in the annual line-up.
2011 Firestone Indy Lights champion Josef Newgarden was also elected to the team in the "At Large" category, after winning five races and claiming three pole positions in IndyCar's leading feeder series.
NASCAR's Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards were elected by the members of AARWBA in the Stock Car category, after the two drivers finished tied on points at the end of a gruelling 36-race season. Stewart clinched the Sprint Cup championship by virtue of the tie breaker of most wins during the year. NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Austin Dillon got the Association's nod in the Touring Series after becoming the youngest driver to claim that title.
Other drivers elected to the "All-America Team" include two-time USAC National Drivers Champion Bryan Clauson and 2011 runner-up Kyle Larson; Del Worsham and Matt Hagan in the Drag Racing category; Andrew Davis and Leh Keen from the Grand-Am Rolex Series; and first-time Pirelli World Challenge Drivers Champion Patrick Long.
In the road racing category, two two-man teams were elected: 2011 Grand-Am Champions Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas, and ALMS 2011 LMP1 driver champions Chris Dyson and Guy Smith. Andrew Davis and Leh Keen were also elected to the "All-America Team" after winning the 2011 Rolex Grand-Am Series GT Class, while sportscar driver Amy Ruman was handed the AARWBA "Rising Star" award after becoming the first female winner of a Trans-Am race at Road Atlanta's Petit Le Mans in October.
All the drivers in the "All-America Team" are in the running for the Jerry Titus Memorial Trophy for the driver receiving the most votes overall from AARWBA members. The winner will be announced and presented at the 42nd annual banquet, which is open to the public and held this year in the Grand Hall at the Train Station at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Indianapolis, Indiana on January 8.
Dario Franchitti has won the trophy each of the three previous years that he has made the "All-America Team" (2007, 2009 and 2010). Repeating the feat again this year would mean Franchitti equalling drag racer John Force as the only four-time winner. Other holders of the trophy include inaugural winner Al Unser in 1970; Johnny Rutherford (1974 and 1980); AJ Foyt (1975); Mario Andretti (1977, 1978 and 1984); Bobby Rahal (1986); Dale Earnhardt (1987); Emerson Fittipaldi (1989); Al Unser Jr. (1990 and 1994); Nigel Mansell (1993), Jeff Gordon (1995, 1998 and 2001); JJ Yeley (2003); and Tony Kanaan (2004).
This year, Kanaan tied with James Hinchcliffe for a spot in the traditional "second team", along with the late 2011 Indianapolis 500 champion Dan Wheldon who was a write-in candidate. Wheldon previously made the "All-America Team" in 2005 and went on to win the Jerry Titus Memorial Trophy that year.
Other stars named to the second team include NASCAR Nationwide Series champion Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., along with Kevin Harvick who finished in third place in the Sprint Cup behind Stewart and Edwards.
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