Image courtesy NHRA

Racing media group names Brittany Force, Martin Truex Jr., Drivers of the Year, plus All-America team

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NHRA 2017 Top Fuel champion Brittany Force and NASCAR Cup 2017 champ Martin Truex Jr. have been named co-winners of the Jerry Titus Memorial Award Driver of the Year honors by the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association.

Force and Truex tied for the most votes in balloting among AARWBA members.

The pair also were named to the organization’s 2017 All-America Team, which includes IndyCar champ Josef Newgarden, IMSA’s Ricky and Jordan Taylor, Sprint Car’s Donny Schatz, Kyle Kaiser (Indy Lights) and Christopher Bell (NASCAR Camping World Truck Series).

Force became the NHRA’s first female Top Fuel champion in 35 years since Shirley Muldowney captured her third and final title in 1982.

Brittany Force won four races (in six final round appearances) in 2017, and twice qualified No. 1 en route to her first world championship. Her father, Funny Car driver John Force, is the winningest driver in NHRA history, with 16 championships and 148 race wins.

“It’s such an honor to be included on the All-America Team by the American Auto Racing Writers & Broadcasters Association,” Force said in a media release. “This season has been incredible, taking home the 2017 championship title for our Monster Energy Team and then to finish off our year by earning the Titus Award is truly unbelievable.

“To be mentioned alongside so many influential names in the motorsports world is an accomplishment in itself and that is something I am very proud of. I have so much support around me and it’s because of my fans, my family and my team that the 2017 season was such a huge success. I am so appreciative of this huge recognition.”

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.

Josef Newgarden wins pole for Grand Prix of Alabama

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With time running off the clock, Josef Newgarden lapped Barber Motorsports Park with a speed of 122.773 mph to win his third career pole and first on this track in the Grand Prix of Alabama.

Newgarden was .0128 seconds faster than teammate Scott Dixon in second.

Newgarden has two previous wins at Barber. He won last year’s edition of this race after starting seventh and in 2015 from fifth.

“I didn’t know if that was going to be enough,” Newgarden said after winning the pole.

“Team Chevy has done a good job,” Newgarden said. “They’ve really given us good power this weekend – good driveability. We’re going to need some fuel mileage tomorrow, which I think we’ll have. But it’s going to get mixed up with the rain.”

Dixon’s lap of 122.750 mph was not quite enough.

“I’m sure you could pick out a number of different things on a lap when it’s that close,” Power said about what made the slight difference between him and Newgarden. “A little mistake out of 9; a little lift here or there.”

Sebastien Bourdais (122.605 mph) qualified third, with Ryan Hunter-Reay (122.159) and James Hinchliffe (121.859) rounding out the top five.

Scott Dixon was the last driver in the top six.

Fast 12

Newgarden topped this chart with a speed of 123.475 mph.

He brought Power, James Hinchcliffe, Scott Dixon, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and Sebastien Bourdais along with him to the Fast 6.

Marco Andretti (122.480), Alexander Rossi (122.216), Simon Pagenaud (122.050), Robert Wickens (122.042), Zach Veach (121.784) and Ed Jones (120.984) failed to advance.

Round 1, Group 1

Newgarden posted the fastest single lap in round one, group one of qualification for the Grand Prix of Alabama with a speed of 122.550 mph.

Hunter-Reay, Hinchcliffe, Wickens, and Andretti also advance to the fast 12.

Taking the final slot was Jones with a speed of 119.835 mph after an off-course excursion in final practice.

This was Andretti’s first advancement to the fast 12 for the first time since 2014.

Round 1, Group 2

Power had the fastest lap of 121.570 mph.

Bourdais, Veach (who is battling food poisoning-like symptoms), Rossi, and Pagenaud grabbed positions 2-4.

Scott Dixon had an uncharacteristically slow lap of 121.006, but managed to advance to the fast 12 when the session was red-flagged for an incident involving Tony Kanaan.

With three minutes remaining, Kanaan spun into the tire barriers while leaving pit road. Since he brought out the red flag, he lost his qualification time of 119.996 mph.

Takuma Sato had slipped off-course midway through the session and posted only the Ninth-fastest speed of 120.789 mph.