Tony Schumacher nominated for Best Driver award

TONY SCHUMACHER NOMINATED FOR 2009 ESPY BEST DRIVER AWARD LOS ANGELES -- Six-time NHRA Full Throttle Series Top Fuel world champion Tony Schumacher has been nominated for the ESPY Best Driver Award, it was announced today by ESPN. The ESPY ...

TONY SCHUMACHER NOMINATED FOR 2009 ESPY BEST DRIVER AWARD

LOS ANGELES -- Six-time NHRA Full Throttle Series Top Fuel world champion Tony Schumacher has been nominated for the ESPY Best Driver Award, it was announced today by ESPN.

The ESPY Awards, for Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly, was created by ESPN in 1993. Sports fans can vote for Schumacher and their other sports heroes in each of 37 different categories via an online poll at: www.espys.tv or at www.espn.mobi. Voting begins today and concludes at 11:59 p.m. (ET) on July 11.

Schumacher, 39, driver of the U.S. Army dragster, finished the 2008 season in dominating fashion, by winning a record fifth consecutive and sixth overall Top Fuel championship. He raced to 15 victories and became only the third driver in NHRA history to claim the coveted Driver of the Year Award. An elite panel of motorsports journalists voted Schumacher the Driver of the Year over NASCAR drivers Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards, among others.

Joining Schumacher on the ESPY Best Driver ballot are NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson, Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton and IRL drivers Helio Castroneves and Scott Dixon.

Past ESPY Best Driver winners include Johnson, who won last year, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart, Bobby Labonte, Dale Jarrett, Jimmy Vasser, Al Unser Jr., Nigel Mansell, and Michael Schumacher.

It is the third time Schumacher, from Chicago, has been nominated for the ESPY Best Driver Award. Other NHRA drivers who have been nominated for ESPY awards in the past include Ashley Force Hood, Melanie Troxel, Tony Pedregon, Greg Anderson, and John Force. No drag racer has ever won an ESPY Award.

Last year Force Hood joined Schumacher on the ESPY ballot and was nominated in the Hummer Like Nothing Else Award category. In 2006, Troxel became the first NHRA driver to be nominated in multiple categories, for Best Driver and Best Female Athlete. Anderson, a three-time Pro Stock world champion (2003-'05) was nominated in 2005. Pedregon, the 2003 and '07 Funny Car world champion, was nominated in 2004. John Force, a 14-time Funny Car world champion and winner of an NHRA record 126 events, was nominated for the ESPY Best Driver award in 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2003.

The 2009 ESPY winners will be announced during the ESPY Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. on July 15. Host Samuel L. Jackson will be joined by a wide variety of the world's premier athletes and Hollywood's biggest stars. The ESPYs will be televised on ESPN and ESPN HD on July 19 at 9 p.m. ET.

-credit: dsr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Dale Jarrett , Bobby Labonte , Tony Stewart , Michael Schumacher , John Force , Tony Schumacher , Greg Anderson , Al Unser Jr. , Jimmy Vasser , Scott Dixon , Nigel Mansell , Jimmie Johnson , Lewis Hamilton , Ashley Force , Melanie Troxel