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Thu, 30 Nov 2006, 07:55 AM

Schumacher Named Fourth Quarter Driver of the Year
Courtesy of NHRA Communication
Photo copyright 2006 Auto Imagery, Inc.

GLENDORA, Calif. --

Tony Schumacher
Tony Schumacher has been named Fourth Quarter Driver of the Year for 2006, it was announced today by Barry Schmoyer, president of the Driver of the Year Foundation.

Schumacher, who earlier this month completed the greatest comeback in NHRA history to win his third consecutive and fourth overall NHRA POWERade Series Top Fuel world championship, joins former teammate Melanie Troxel as 2006 Driver of the Year quarterly winners. Troxel became the first female to win a quarterly award when she was named the First Quarter winner in April.

Schumacher received 11 of 16 first place votes from the distinguished panel of motorsports journalists who determine the Driver of the Year award. Others receiving first place votes were newly crowned NASCAR champions Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick, and Tony Stewart, who won three NASCAR races to close the 2006 season. A total of 12 drivers scored points in the fourth quarter voting.

"I'm truly honored that the media selected me for this award," Schumacher said. "To be singled out among the great drivers from so many different series is really exciting. It's also nice that I join my former Schumacher Racing teammate as a quarterly winner. Without the ongoing, committed efforts from my U.S. Army team and Alan Johnson (crew chief), I would not be in this position. Any post-season awards that I receive are going to be theirs to enjoy as well."

"The Run"
Schumacher claimed his 2006 Top Fuel championship title in dramatic fashion. After falling behind 336 points at the season's midpoint, Schumacher and his U.S. Army team rallied to post five victories in eight final rounds down the stretch to overtake Doug Kalitta for the championship at the season's last race, the Auto Club NHRA Finals in Pomona, Calif. The intense drama came in the final round of that event, when Schumacher needed to win and set a national elapsed time record in order to earn the championship. He did both, powering his machine to a national record setting run of 4.428 seconds and holding off Troxel at the finish line.

In recognition of the Fourth Quarter Driver of the Year award, Schumacher will receive a trophy and a Maurice Lacroix wristwatch.

In its 40th year, the Driver of the Year is the oldest award that encompasses all of the racing series in the United States. A panel of elite journalists determine the winner. In quarterly voting, points are awarded on a declining 9, 6, 4, 3, 2, 1 basis. A separate one-driver vote will determine the 2006 Driver of the Year.

In addition to Schumacher and Troxel, other 2006 quarterly winners were Sebastian Bourdais of Champ Car (second quarter) and Sam Hornish Jr. of the Indy Racing League (third quarter).

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