Schumacher earns AARWBA's top driver award

SCHUMACHER NAMED AARWBA TITUS AWARD WINNER INDIANAPOLIS (Jan. 13, 2007) - Tony Schumacher received his first Jerry Titus Memorial Trophy Saturday evening at the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association (AARWBA) awards ceremony...


INDIANAPOLIS (Jan. 13, 2007) - Tony Schumacher received his first Jerry Titus Memorial Trophy Saturday evening at the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association (AARWBA) awards ceremony at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Indianapolis. The Jerry Titus Memorial Trophy, named for the late journalist and racer, is given annually to honor the driver who earns the most total votes in balloting for auto racing's official All-America Team as selected by the membership of AARWBA.

Schumacher, 37, from Chicago, became the 37th winner of the prestigious trophy, which has been awarded to many of auto racing's greats. Other NHRA stars to be honored with the coveted prize include Don Prudhomme (1976), Shirley Muldowney (1982) and John Force (1996, 1999, 2000 and 2002), the only four-time winner of the Titus award. A.J. Foyt (1975), Mario Andretti (1977, '78 and '84), Darrell Waltrip (1981), Dale Earnhardt (1987), Nigel Mansell (1993) and Jeff Gordon (1995, '98 and '01) also have received the honor.

Schumacher, who was selected for the fourth time to the AARWBA All-America First Team, had a Titus-worthy year as he raced to five victories and closed the 2006 season by securing his third consecutive and fourth overall NHRA POWERade Series Top Fuel world championship 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 record to earn the championship. He did both, powering his machine to a national-record-setting run of 4.428 seconds and holding off Melanie Troxel at the finish line. He also set a single-season NHRA Top Fuel record for No. 1 qualifiers (13), and his five victories increased his career total to 35, tying him with Don Garlits for 11th-most in NHRA POWERade history (all categories) and fourth-most in Top Fuel. Schumacher and drag racing legend Joe Amato are now the only Top Fuel drivers in NHRA history to win three consecutive world championship titles.

"This award is clearly the result of the hard work and determination that my U.S. Army team put in throughout the season," Schumacher said. "Without their never-say-die attitude, I would not be in the position I am today. This is as much their award as it is mine."

Force was recognized for his 14th selection to the AARWBA first team. The 57-year-old fan-favorite won his 14th POWERade world championship in 17 years with a consistent season in which he powered his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang to three wins in a category-leading eight final rounds. Force overtook season-long POWERade points leader Ron Capps for good in Reading, Pa., and he maintained the top spot in the standings in the final four events.

The other drivers presented with First Team awards were Sebastien Bourdais and Sam Hornish Jr. (Open Wheel), Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart (Stock Car), Jorg Bergmeister, Rinaldo Capello/Allan McNish and Scott Pruett/Luis Diaz (Road Racing, tie), Donny Schatz and Josh Wise (Short Track), Todd Bodine and Frank Kimmel (Touring Series) and J.R. Hildebrand and Travis Pastrana (At-Large).

Top Fuel runner-up Doug Kalitta, who led the season standings for most of the year, was named to the Drag Racing second team, along with Pro Stock champ Jason Line, who drove his Summit Racing Pontiac GTO to his first professional series crown. Top Alcohol Funny Car standout Frank Manzo, who had 10 event wins - six national and four divisional - en route to his 10th NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series championship, was an At-Large selection on the second team.

AARWBA members have annually selected an All-America Auto Racing Team and Jerry Titus Memorial Trophy winner since 1970.

-credit: nhra

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Darrell Waltrip , Todd Bodine , Shirley Muldowney , Ron Capps , John Force , Tony Schumacher , Joe Amato , Doug Kalitta , Rinaldo Capello , Allan McNish , Nigel Mansell , Scott Pruett , Jimmie Johnson , Frank Kimmel , Luis Diaz , Mario Andretti , Jörg Bergmeister , Travis Pastrana , Donny Schatz , Don Garlits , Don Prudhomme , Jason Line , Josh Wise , A.J. Foyt , Sam Hornish Jr.