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Wed, 10 Dec 2008, 08:38 AM

NHRA Top Fuel Champ Tony Schumacher Named 2008 Driver of the Year
Courtesy of NHRA Communications
Photo copyright 2008 Auto Imagery, Inc.





GLENDORA, Calif. --

Tony Schumacher
NHRA POWERade Series Top Fuel world champion Tony Schumacher has been named the 2008 DRIVER OF THE YEAR, it was announced today by Barry Schmoyer, president of the Driver of the Year Foundation, based in Sarasota, Fla.

Schumacher, from Chicago, had a dominating season behind the wheel of his U.S. Army dragster and becomes only the third NHRA driver to win the DRIVER OF THE YEAR award in its 42-year history. Funny Car icon John Force also won the prestigious award in 1996 and Pro Stock great Greg Anderson claimed the trophy in 2004. Other past winners have included such racing greats as Mario Andretti, who was the first winner in 1967, Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Darrell Waltrip.


Tony Schumacher
Schumacher raced to 15 victories and won his fifth consecutive and sixth overall NHRA POWERade Series world championship crown during a record-breaking 2008 season. He was also named the DRIVER OF THE YEAR third quarter winner.

"What an honor it is to be singled out as the Driver of the Year for 2008," Schumacher said. "I'm happy that the NHRA is front and center again with this award. It's been a few years since Greg Anderson won it. Of course, John Force also won it in 1996. You can't forget the living legend himself.

"Needless to say, I wouldn't be receiving any post-season award without the talented team that surrounded me this past season. My crew chief, Alan Johnson, and the entire crew deserve all the credit in the world. There's no denying the fact that we had one of those dream seasons."

The DRIVER OF THE YEAR title is unique because a select panel of 18 leading journalists and broadcasters from across the U.S. are the only eligible voters via a secret ballot. The vote usually comes down to one or two drivers, however this year proved to be particularly difficult for the panel. In the final tally it was one of the closest votes in the history of the award, with Schumacher getting six votes, while NASCAR's Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards each received five votes. Kyle Busch and Tony Stewart, also from NASCAR, received one vote each.


"Usually one driver has a standout season, but this year there were a handful of guys who were all viable candidates for this award," Schmoyer said.

Schumacher will be presented with a trophy and Tissot wristwatch next April at the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in Talladega, Ala.

Tom Compton Quote -Tony Schumacher Named Driver of the Year:

"It is an incredible accomplishment and a testament to the high level of commitment and teamwork showcased by Tony Schumacher and the entire U.S. Army team during the 2008 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing season," said Tom Compton, president, NHRA. "It is a prestigious honor that only two other NHRA drivers - John Force and Greg Anderson - have previously won in the long history of the award. On behalf of NHRA and all of its competitors, we appreciate the media that recognized the outstanding accomplishments put together by Tony and the U.S. Army team against some extremely tough competition."

Tony Schumacher 2008 Accomplishments:
*Won fifth consecutive and sixth overall Top Fuel world championship
*First driver in NHRA history to win five consecutive Top Fuel championships
*Moved past NHRA legend Joe Amato to become the all-time Top Fuel wins leader (56 victories); ranks sixth in victories among all NHRA pro drivers
*Established Top Fuel records for most championship titles (6), career victories (56), season wins (15), consecutive wins (7), consecutive final rounds (11), most final rounds (18), consecutive round wins (31)
*Tied all-time NHRA record for wins in a season (15, Greg Anderson in 2004) and elimination round wins in a season (76, Greg Anderson in 2004)
*Raced to 15 victories in 18 final round appearances in 24 events; His eliminations round winning percentage was 90%
*Won prestigious U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis for the sixth time in his career
*Swept the Western Swing (won trio of races at Denver, Seattle in Sonoma, Calif. in consecutive weeks); only the sixth driver in NHRA history to accomplish the feat
*Raced to nine No. 1 qualifying performances
*Clinched championship title during qualifying at penultimate race (Las Vegas 2)

DRIVER OF THE YEAR winners:

2008 - Tony Schumacher
2007 - Jimmie Johnson
2006 - Jimmie Johnson
2005 - Tony Stewart
2004 - Greg Anderson
2003 - Ryan Newman 
2002 - Cristiano da Matta 
2001 - Jeff Gordon 
2000 - Bobby Labonte 
1999 - Dale Jarrett 
1998 - Jeff Gordon 
1997 - Jeff Gordon 
1996 - John Force 
1995 - Jeff Gordon 
1994 - Dale Earnhardt 
1993 - Nigel Mansell
1992 - Bobby Rahal        
1991 - Michael Andretti  
1990 - Al Unser Jr. 
1989 - Emerson Fittipaldi 
1988 - Bill Elliott
1987 - Dale Earnhardt
1986 - Bobby Rahall 
1985 - Bill Elliott
1984 - Mario Andretti
1983 - Bobby Allison
1982 - Darrell Waltrip
1981 - Darrell Waltrip
1980 - Johnny Rutherford
1979 - Darrell Waltrip
1978 - Mario Andretti
1977 - Cale Yarborough
1976 - David Pearson
1975 - A.J. Foyt
1974 - Bobby Unser
1973 - David Pearson
1972 - Bobby Allison
1971 - Richard Petty
1970 - Al Unser
1969 - Lee Roy Yarbrough
1968 - Mark Donohue
1967 - Mario Andretti





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