John Force

John Force top honoree of auto racing media group’s 2013 All-America teams

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Legendary NHRA 16-time Top Fuel champion John Force earned his fifth Jerry Titus Memorial Award to highlight the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association’s 2013 All-America Team, announced earlier this week.

The Titus award recognizes the top vote-getter in the overall balloting. Force has won the honor more times than any other driver; no other driver has won it more than three times.

“It is always an honor to be recognized as an All-America First Team driver,” Force said. “This award is very special because the media is so important to growing our sport.

“You want to win every race and that is always my focus. Winning the championship last year was a great team accomplishment and we need to keep winning so we can keep chasing corporate America.

“I want to keep racing with my kids for as long as possible. My health good and I have the fire to keep chasing after these young kids.”

The All-America Team honored some of the best and most successful drivers across several motorsports series including open-wheel, drag racing and NASCAR for their achievements during the past racing season.

It marks the 43rd year that AARWBA has presented of the All-America Team, voted upon by media members who cover motorsports on a regular basis on both the local and national levels. Founded in 1955, AARWBA is composed of writers, broadcasters, photographers and other media professionals.

Honors were divided into first and second teams.

AARWBA’s All-America First team featured:

* Stock Car division winners: Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth. Johnson won for earning his sixth Sprint Cup championship and sixth in the last eight years driving. Kenseth was chosen for his seven wins in his first full season for Joe Gibbs Racing after more than a decade at Roush-Fenway Racing.

* Drag Racing division winners: John Force and Shawn Langdon. Force with his record 16th NHRA Funny Car championship in 2013, while Langdon won the Top Fuel class for the first time in his career.

* Open-wheel division winners: Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves. Dixon won the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series Championship for the third time in his career, driving for the Target Chip Ganassi Racing team. Castroneves, meanwhile, finished second in the series racing for Team Penske.

* Road Racing Team division winners: Max Angelelli and Jordan Taylor earned the most votes based on winning the Grand-Am title. Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas won for finishing runner-up on the Grand Am circuit and in the Road Racing division votes.

* Short Track division winners: Bryan Clauson and Bobby East. Clauson captured the 2013 Sprint Car championship, while East won the Silver Crown title.

* Touring Series winners: Danny Schatz and Frank Kimmel. Schatz recorded 23 World of Outlaws Sprint Car A-Main wins in 2013, while Kimmel claimed his 10th career ARCA championship.

* At-Large winners: Sage Karam and Johnny O’Connell. Karam claimed the 2013 Indy Lights championship, while O’Connell won the Pirelli World Challenge GT title.

* Rising Star winner: Carlos Munoz. Driving for Andretti Autosport, Munoz finished third in the Indy Lights championship, winning a series-high four races, as well as pulled off an outstanding runner-up finish in the Indianapolis 500.

AARWBA also continued its tradition of naming a Second Team. Winners were:

Open Wheel: Ryan Hunter-Reay and Will Power.

Road Racing: Klaus Graf/Lucas Luhr and Doug Peterson.

Short Track: Daryn Pittman and Christopher Bell.

Stock Car: Kevin Harvick and Sam Hornish, Jr.

Drag Racing: Antron Brown and Jeg Coughlin, Jr.

Touring Series: Matt Crafton and Alessandro Balzan.

At Large: Drag racers Frank Manzo and Jim Whitely.

Conor Daly’s IndyCar gets painted

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Conor Daly
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Conor Daly will compete full-time in the Verizon IndyCar Series this year in a ride for Dale Coyne Racing.

Daly will make laps in the No. 18 Honda sponsored by Jonathan Byrd’s. The 24-year-old driver tweeted out a picture today of his race car getting painted for the season, which starts on March 13.

Daly has six IndyCar races under his belt so far.

USF2000 reintroduces National Class for 2016

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The National Class is officially back in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda series for 2016.

Yes, when Eric Filgueiras and Spencer Racing announced they’d be in the National Class, that kind of gave it away that the class would be back without it being formally introduced.

Luckily though, the series has released the news today. A formal release is below:

Drivers seeking to make their way onto the Mazda Road to Indy now have an alternate, lower-cost route onto the first rung, the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, with today’s confirmation that the National Class will be returning in 2016.

The Mazda Road to Indy is unique in the world of auto racing, offering a scholarship-funded path all the way from karting via USF2000, the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires to the Verizon IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500.

Eligible to drivers at least 20 years of age before or during the 2016 season, the National Class will be open to all Sports Car Club of America-legal FC (Formula Continental) cars, from any chassis manufacturer, dating back to 2000. Any aerodynamic devices approved by the SCCA are permitted, although in the interests of safety all cars must be fitted with a nosebox crash structure, wheel tethers, Staubli devices, approved head surrounds and seats and yellow light system as required by all other current USF2000 cars.

Cars will be permitted to run either the same 2.0-liter Mazda MZR engine per the USF2000 Championship Class regulations or sealed 2.0-liter Ford Zetec motors as prepared by Elite Engines or Quicksilver RacEngines with National Class mapping. Any SCCA-legal 6″ and 8″ wheels may be used, although all cars must run on Cooper tires.

Entry fees will be discounted 50 percent below the Championship Class rate, and each race winner will earn a free entry for an upcoming event in the same season. The second-place finisher will claim a 50 percent reduction in the entry fee for an upcoming race. In addition, race winners equipped with the MZR engine will take home a $1,000 award from Mazda.

As an added benefit and based on a minimum average car count of five entries per race weekend, the 2016 National Class champion will receive an “entry ticket” to the Mazda Road to Indy $200K Scholarship Shootout in the fall of this year where champions of select junior level-open wheel and karting series from around the world will compete for a Mazda scholarship to enter the USF2000 Championship Class in 2017.

The point system will be the same used by the Masters Class (formerly Expert Class) in the Pro Mazda championship.

“We are excited to bring back the National Class and allow drivers to sample the Mazda Road to Indy,” said Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions. “RC Enerson began his path on the ladder system in the National Class. It’s a great first step onto the platform for many drivers, and we are excited to offer this year’s champion an entry into the Shootout as well as a full-season entry package to USF2000 in 2017 in either the Championship or National Class.”

The Mazda Road to Indy will head to Barber Motorsport Park for Spring Training on March 5 (Indy Lights) and 6/7 (USF2000/Pro Mazda). The 2016 season will kick off on the Streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., on March 11-13 in support of the Verizon IndyCar Series.

Report: Scott Tucker arrested by FBI in payday lending scheme

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - JANUARY 30:  The #95 Level 5 Motorsports BMW Riley driven by Scott Tucker, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Richard Westbrook and Raphael Matos during The Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway on January 30, 2011 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images)
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For four years from 2010 to 2013, Scott Tucker and Level 5 Motorsports were American Le Mans Series regulars, first in the Prototype Challenge class and then the LMP2 class. They won, a lot, and were a regular championship-contending effort, plus those who worked for the team had nothing but positive things to say about the operation that was run.

That said, the funding of the team was always perpetually questioned, as Tucker was always allegedly involved within the payday lending business, and had reportedly abusive practices towards customers.

This has been something of a bubbling story for five years but per Reuters, on Wednesday, Tucker and one of his lawyers were arrested by the FBI for their alleged exploitation.

Per Reuters, an indictment filed in Manhattan federal court outlined millions that went to Tucker, who then used it for various luxury items. Allegedly, more than $67 million went to the Level 5 Motorsports race team.

Level 5’s last IMSA series start came under the unified TUDOR United SportsCar Championship umbrella in January 2014, when the team won the Rolex 24 at Daytona in the GT Daytona class. The team withdrew from the championship following that race.

Social Roundup: IndyCar tests at Sonoma, Fontana

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Simon Pagenaud
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There has been an awakening. Have you felt it?

The engines of the Verizon IndyCar Series have roared back to life this week, a month before the season opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

After a test at Phoenix International Raceway two days ago, two more tests are occurring today in California, at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana and at Sonoma Raceway.

At Auto Cub Speedway is Ryan Hunter-Reay, Carlos Munoz and James Hinchcliffe.

In Sonoma is the entirety of the Chip Ganassi Racing team and Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud from Team Penske.

Here’s a look at how the day is progressing at each test through social media. We’ll update throughout the day. If you’re attending either test, tweet us pictures at @MotorSportsTalk or @danielmcfadin of how you’re taking in the beginning of the 2016 season.

Sonoma Raceway

Auto Club Speedway