Schumacher Wins Mario Andretti Trophy

Tony Schumacher and Mario Andretti
Dan Chubirka for SPEED

Seven-time NHRA Top Fuel champion Tony Schumacher edged NASCAR champ Jimmie Johnson and Superbike rookie Ben Spies to earn the Mario Andretti Trophy as the 2009 SPEED Performer of the Year.

“I’m honored to be chosen the 2009 Speed Performer of the Year," said U.S. Army Top Fuel driver Tony Schumacher. “Of course, receiving the Mario Andretti Trophy from the man himself was an incredible experience. As always, any trophy I get is because of the dedication and determination by my entire team. This truly is the team’s award, not my personal award.

“And, to be sure, we continually race and win for our Army Strong Soldiers. Without their hard work every day to keep us free and safe, we’re not doing what we love to do."

Schumacher received six first-place votes from the voting panel, followed by Johnson (4) and Spies (4). MotoGP star Valentino Rossi, IndyCar champ Dario Franchitti and Formula One winner Jenson Button round out the top vote-getters.

After winning the championship in dominant fashion in 2008, Schumacher lost his entire crew when former crew chief Alan Johnson left camp to form his own operation with funding from HH Sheikh Khalid Bin Hamad Al Thani, a member of the ruling family of Qatar. Schumacher hired veteran crew chief Mike Green, built a new crew from scratch and came back to defeat Johnson’s team by two points, the closest championship margin in NHRA history. It marked Schumacher’s sixth consecutive Top Fuel title.

“Far fewer people will notice, but Tony's dominance of Top Fuel racing is statistically even more impressive than Johnson's superiority in NASCAR," noted SPEED Performer of the Year voting panelist Dave Despain. “What made this year's Top Fuel title special is the fact that Tony proved all the pundits wrong … he not only won the crown without Alan Johnson but, in fact, defeated Johnson's driver (Larry Dixon) when the chips were down."

The presentation of the Mario Andretti Trophy will be part of the 4th Annual SPEED Performance Awards one-hour television special Feb. 4 at 10:30 p.m. ET on SPEED. The special also will unveil the winners of the fan-voted SPEED Performance Awards, including the RACER Magazine Rookie of the Year winner.

Air dates for the 4th Annual SPEED Performance Awards:

Feb. 4 – 10:30 p.m. ET
Feb. 5 – 9 a.m. ET
Feb. 6 – 3 p.m. ET
Feb. 11 – 1:30 a.m. ET
Feb. 12 – noon ET

Mario Andretti Trophy winners and runners-up:

2009 – Tony Schumacher, NHRA (runner-up Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR)
2008 – Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR (runner-up Tony Schumacher, NHRA)
2007 – Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR (runner-up Donny Schatz, WoO)
2006 – Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR (runner-up Nicky Hayden, MotoGP)

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