By Patrick Reynolds
Mooresville, NC – The American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association announced its first All-America Team following the 1970 season. That annual tradition continued with the team being announced for 2016’s top performers.
A group of special drivers representing multiple forms of professional motorsports is elected each year by AARWBA. The association’s members vote on drivers within their participating categories of racing. The driver receiving the most votes from each discipline is elected to the All-America Team.
The 2016 All-America Team:
Simon Pagenaud was the top vote getter in the Open Wheel division. Pagenaud claimed the Verizon Indycar Series Championship driving for Team Penske. He clinched the crown on the strength of five victories including the season finale in Sonoma.
Road Racing saw the driving team of Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi earn the most votes following a runner-up finish in the IMSA WeatherTech Prototype Championship with Action Express Racing. The team scored a win at Watkins Glen during the 2016 campaign.
Craftsman World of Outlaws Sprint Car kingpin Donny Schatz led the vote tally in the Short Track Division. Schatz’s 25 wins, 60 top-fives, 77 top-tens and five quick time awards highlighted his championship year. Schatz’s title was his eighth career crown.
Jimmie Johnson led the way in the Stock Car category. Johnson claimed his seventh NASCAR Sprint Cup championship, tying the record set by Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt. He capped off the year by winning the title and the final race in Miami.
Johnson is also recognized as the Jerry Titus Memorial Trophy winner for the driver having the most overall votes.
The Drag Racing category was shared by Antron Brown and Ron Capps who won the NHRA Mello Yello Top Fuel and Funny Car championships respectively. Brown and Capps tied with an equal number of votes cast by the AARWBA membership.
In the Touring Series, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Champion Johnny Sauter earned the most votes. He won three races at Daytona, Martinsville, and Texas.
Seven-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race winner William Byron was the At Large category’s top vote earner. He captured victories at Kansas, Texas, Iowa, Kentucky, Pocono, New Hampshire, and Miami.
NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Champion Todd Gilliland was voted the Rising Star Award. The sixteen-year-old won the title and the Sunoco Rookie of the Year honor. Gilliland won his first four career series starts going back to the 2015 finale and will compete in four NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races for Kyle Busch Motorsports in 2017.
The country’s top forms of professional motorsports are represented in this championship group voted on by AARWBA as the 2016 All-America Team.
Founded in 1955 AARWBA is a motorsports organization comprised of writers, broadcasters, photographers, and other media-related professionals. The organization’s charter is aimed at providing not only proper recognition for members of the motorsports media, but to recognize their work as well as the work of the competitors that they follow in print, on the air, and on film.
Patrick Reynolds is a former professional NASCAR mechanic who hosts Speedway Report Mondays 7:30 pm ET/ 4:30 pm PT on http://www.zeusradio.com/racersreunion-radio/. Follow on Twitter @SpeedwayPat.