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Wed, 27 Nov 2002, 01:37 PM

Dixon, Force, Coughlin Lead Drag Racing Nominees for 2002 AARWBA Auto Racing All-America Team
Courtesy of NHRA Communications

GLENDORA, Calif. -- NHRA POWERADE champions Larry Dixon, John Force and Jeg Coughlin headline the Drag Racing nominees for the 2002 American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association (AARWBA) Auto Racing All-America Team.

Two drivers from each of six categories - Drag Racing, Open Wheel, Stock Car, Road Racing, Short Track and At Large - will be selected to the first team by the members of the motorsports press association, while two second team drivers from each category also will be named. The remaining drivers in each category receiving five percent of the vote will receive honorable mention status.

In addition to Dixon, Force and Coughlin, other NHRA nominees include six-time champion Kenny Bernstein, Funny Car driver Tony Pedregon and eight-time Top Alcohol Funny Car champion Frank Manzo.

The driver receiving the most votes overall will be presented the prestigious Jerry Titus Award, recognizing AARWBA's Driver of the Year. Force is a three-time winner of the Jerry Titus Award (1996, 1999 and 2000).

Dixon earned his first NHRA championship and fifth overall for team owner Don "The Snake" Prudhomme by winning nine events behind the wheel of his Miller Lite dragster. Force earned his record 12th overall NHRA Funny Car championship and 10th consecutive title by powering his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang to eight victories, increasing his career victory total to 106. Coughlin drove his Jeg's Mail Order Chevy Cavalier to a Pro Stock category-best eight victories en route to his second NHRA crown. In his final season as a driver, Bernstein claimed four victories in his Budweiser King dragster and finished in second place in Top Fuel. Pedregon captured a career-best six victories in 2002 in his Castrol Syntec Ford Mustang and challenged Force until the final race of the season.

IHRA Top Fuel champion Clay Millican also received nomination in the Drag Racing category.

IRL champion Sam Hornish Jr. and CART champion Cristiano de Matta lead the Open Wheel category. Patrick Carpentier, Helio Castroneves, Gil de Ferran and Bruno Junquiera also received nominations.

NASCAR Winston Cup champion Tony Stewart leads the Stock Car category nominees, along with Winston Cup Rookie of the Year Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch, Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin and Matt Kenseth.

In the Road Racing category, veteran driver Boris Said headlines the list of nominees, which also includes Terry Borcheller, Chris Dyson, Ron Fellows, Tom Kristensen and Didier Theys.

NASCAR Busch Series champion Greg Biffle leads the Short Track nominees, which also includes NASCAR Craftsman Truck champion Mike Bliss, Joey Clanton, Frank Kimmell, Steve Kinser and J.J. Yeley.

The list of At Large nominees is headlined by Manzo, who won four NHRA national events in 2002. Other nominees include Bill Auberlen, A.J. Foyt IV, David Higgins, Jimmy Rector and Bryan Sellers.

AARWBA members have annually selected an All-American Auto Racing Team since 1970. Drivers selected to the team will be honored at the AARWBA banquet, held each year in January. The banquet is open to the public. For tickets or other information about the AARWBA banquet, call (818) 842-7005 or write to AARWBA, 922 N. Pass Ave., Burbank, CA, 91505.

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