From Tony Veneziano
Concord, NC — Voting is under way for the annual American Auto Racing Writers & Broadcasters Association All-America Auto Racing Team, with both the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series and World of Outlaws Late Model Series represented in the “Short Track Category.”
Donny Schatz, the four-time and defending World of Outlaws champion, is on the AARWBA All-America Auto Racing Team ballot for the fourth consecutive season. He has earned First Team honors in each of the last three seasons. Schatz was victorious 12 times in 2009, including picking up his 100th career World of Outlaws A-Feature win at Dacotah Speedway in his home state of North Dakota, to become just the fifth driver in the 30-plus year history of the series to accomplish this feat. In winning his fourth title, he became just the second driver other than 20-time series champion Steve Kinser to win at least four championships and became the only other driver other than Kinser to win four consecutive championships. In addition, Schatz also became just the second driver ever to win the Knoxville Nationals four times in a row, joining Kinser on that list as well.
Young full-fender star Josh Richards, meanwhile, appears on the AARWBA All-America Auto Racing Team ballot for the first time in his burgeoning career after winning the 2009 WoO LMS championship in dramatic fashion. The 21-year-old from Shinnston, W.Va., outdueled one of his racing mentors, 2007 WoO LMS titlist and former AARWBA All-America Auto Racing Team nominee Steve Francis, to capture the championship by a mere 14-point margin and become the sixth different WoO LMS champ in as many years and youngest in tour history. Driving his father Mark’s Rocket Chassis house car, Richards led the series with eight victories – moving him to second on the tour’s all-time win list since 2004 behind Francis – and six fast-time awards, scored 23 top-five and 34 top-10 finishes in 40 A-Mains and earned nearly $300,000, including the $100,000 championship prize.
Jason Meyers, who won nine times in 2009 and finished just 19 points behind Schatz in closest ever battle for the World of Outlaws title, appears on the ballot for the second consecutive year. The native of Clovis, Calif. was named to the All-America Team Second Team in 2008 after finishing as the runner-up in the World of Outlaws standings. Meyers was victorious at nine different tracks this past season including winning the opener of the World Finals at The Dirt Track @ Lowe’s Motor Speedway. He also visited Victory Lane during the Mini Gold Cup at Silver Dollar Speedway in his home state of California, as well picking up a $20,000 win at Skagit Speedway.
Joey Saldana, who won 21 overall times this past season to lead the World of Outlaws, appears on the All-America Team ballot for the second time in his career. He was named to the Second Team in 2007. The native of Brownsburg, Ind. became just the fifth driver in World of Outlaws history to win at least 20 A-Feature events in a single season. Saldana won at 15 different tracks in 2009, including his second $50,000 Gold Cup Race of Champions title, as well as twice at The Dirt Track @ Lowe’s Motor Speedway live on SPEED including in the finale of the third annual World Finals. He finished the season third in points, in what was the closest three-way battle for the title in series history.
The AARWBA has been naming an All-America Auto Racing Team since 1970, and since the Outlaws Sprint Car Series was founded in 1978, the series has been represented in 29 of those years.
Steve Kinser, the 20-time World of Outlaws Champion, holds the record of being named to the All-America Auto Racing Team 23 times, including an unprecedented 18 berths on the First Team.
The annual All-America Team vote is conducted by the over 300 members of the media who are part of the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association. The top driver from each of seven categories on the ballot will be named to the First Team and honored at the 40th annual AARWBA banquet Jan. 16 in Brownsburg, Ind. The winner of the Jerry Titus Award will also be announced at the banquet. The Titus Award honors the team’s top driver, which is the one earning the most votes in the balloting regardless of category.