First, let me begin this with apologies to Greg Anderson, Jason Line, Clay Millican and Gary Scelzi, friends and terrific competitors all three.
But this writer had to let his American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association All-America Team ballot go with no more time to consider the two drag racers for whom I would vote.
We'll let you see our other selections -- in Open Wheel, Stock Car, Road Racing Short Track, Touring Series and At Large so you can also agree or disagree with those, but to drag racing:
The nod here went to Tony Schumacher and John Force, one and two respectively.
How in the world can you not pick the guy who wins the top of the line class in the premier drag racing sanctioning body in the world?
True, Clay Millican has been the most dominant IHRA Top Fuel driver the past four seasons, winning his fourth straight championship in the season just completed.
But, excuse me. The key words there are IHRA. Millican some time back challenged Don "The Snake" Prudhomme and Larry Dixon to a match race of the Top Fuel champions of the two sanctioning bodies.
I vividly remember no-nonsense Snake's response:
"Just tell him to come over and run with us."
It's not quite that easy, I guess, to leave Greg Anderson and Pro Stock Rookie of the Year Jason Line off that very limited ballot of two for the overall honor.
But, let's face it, and this is no slam at them, Warren Johnson, Bob Glidden (who'll be inducted into the IMHOF Hall of Fame next April), or any other Pro Stocker. But when NHRA lists its three major categories, it's 1. Top Fuel, 2. Funny Car and three Pro Stock.
I've even heard one writer, in discussing the difference, referring to Pro Stock as the Triple-A in the scheme of things. That's not to detract from Anderson and Line. They worked and raced just as hard for their honors as did Schumacher and Force, or even Gary Scelzi, and our congratulations also go out to them, but probably until AARWBA decides to vote for "three" in each category, they'll have to be content with Pro Stock honors.
Yeah, we mentioned Scelzi, the Funny Car pilot who had his best season in the floppers since moving from Top Fuel. He finished third in the points, driving for -- guess who-- Don Schumacher, who also fields Tony's car.
Would you replace either Tony or John with Gary? This writer didn't.
Now to those other votes: Open Wheel: Sebastien Bourdais and Bruno Junqueira; Stock Car: Kurt Busch and Jeff Gordon; Road Racing: Ron Fellows and Tommy Kendall; Short Track: Steve Kinser and Danny Lasoki, Touring Series (probably a catch all for the NASCAR Craftsman Trucks and Busch Series) so we voted accordingly: Bobby Hamilton and Martin Truex, Jr.; and finally At Large: Bill Auberlen and Scott Speed.
At Large may be the most confusing category to you the reader, but Auberlen raced in two different series and won championships in both, while Speed race in two European Formula Renault 2000 series and won them both.
So that explains this vote.
Oh, and by the way, can you think of a more fitting name on an All America Racing Team ballot than Speed?