Ashley Force, Schumacher nominated for 2008 Espy Awards (1 Viewer)

Ashley Force, Schumacher nominated for 2008 Espy Awards
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Second-year Funny Car phenom Ashley Force has been nominated for the ESPY Hummer Like Nothing Else Award and five-time NHRA POWERade Series Top Fuel world champion Tony Schumacher was nominated for the ESPY Best Driver Award, it was announced this week by ESPN.

The ESPY Awards, for Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly, was created by ESPN in 1993. Sports fans can vote for Force, Schumacher and other sports heroes in each category via an online poll at: ESPYS 2008

Force, 25, who won the 2007 NHRA Auto Club Road to the Future Award as NHRA's best performing rookie for the year and was voted "Hottest Athlete" in a nationwide poll on AOL over finalists Tom Brady and Danica Patrick, made history on the dragstrip earlier this season when she became the first woman in NHRA history to win a race in the 7,000 horsepower Funny Car category that her legendary father – John Force -- has dominated for much of the past two decades.

During the memorable season, Force also became the first woman to lead the POWERade Series point standings, and has been ranked in the top five for most of the season. She is currently third with two runner-up finishes to compliment her lone victory. She seems poised to not only make the Countdown to 1, NHRA's championship playoffs, but be a major contender for the world championship title.

"I'm really excited and surprised to be nominated," said Force, driver of the Castrol GTX Ford Mustang. "It's neat to be in a category with athletes from other sports and I am glad (the ESPYs) thought of me. I hope this opportunity will bring more awareness to NHRA Drag Racing, which is just an incredible sport that has a great mix of competitors of different ages, genders, ethnic backgrounds and personalities. I just love being a part of it."

Boston Red Sox outfielder Manny Ramirez, Pittsburgh Penguins scoring machine Sidney Crosby and former NFL player George Martin also are nominated alongside Force in the Hummer Like Nothing Else Award category.

This is the second year that the ESPYs will present the Hummer Like Nothing Else Award, which recognizes athletes who have attained unique accomplishments in their respective sports. San Diego Chargers running back LaDanian Tomlinson was the inaugural winner.

Schumacher, 38, driver of the U.S. Army dragster, finished the 2007 season once again in dramatic fashion, by winning his record-breaking fourth consecutive and fifth overall Top Fuel championship on the final run of the season. On that final pass at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California, Schumacher won the race and in the process the championship title over season-long leader Rod Fuller. The previous season, Schumacher used a national record-setting run in a final round win over Melanie Troxel to claim the championship title at the last instant from Doug Kalitta.

Schumacher's mythic world championship-winning runs the last two seasons, along with his six victories in the prestigious Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis, have solidified his legend in the world of NHRA Drag Racing.

"Yet again, I'm excited that I'm being considered for such a prestigious award," said Schumacher, who has raced to five victories this season, holds a commanding points lead in his category and has already clinched a berth in the Countdown to 1. "Hopefully, this time around, I can bring home an ESPY for our Soldiers. Without their hard work and sacrifice each day, we wouldn't be enjoying these events."

Joining Schumacher on the ESPY Best Driver ballot are NASCAR drivers Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch and Dario Franchitti (formerly IRL), Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton and IRL driver Scott Dixon.

"That's a pretty stout group of guys," said Schumacher. "I'm honored to be included in such a select circle."

Past ESPY Best Driver winners include last year's winner, Jeff Gordon, and fellow stock car racers Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart, Bobby Labonte, and Dale Jarrett, and open-wheel drivers Jimmy Vasser, Al Unser Jr., Nigel Mansell, and Michael Schumacher.

It is the second time Schumacher, from Chicago, has been nominated for the ESPY Best Driver Award. Force, from Yorba Linda, Calif., is a first-time nominee for the ESPYs. They join Melanie Troxel, Tony Pedregon, Greg Anderson, and John Force as the only professional drag racers to be nominated for the prestigious ESPY Awards. No drag racer has ever won an ESPY Award.

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 2008 ESPY winners will be announced during the ESPY Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. on July 16 and hosted by Justin Timberlake, who 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 July 20 at 9 p.m. ET.

Ashley Force career highlights
* First woman to win a Funny Car race in NHRA history
* First woman to lead the Funny Car point standings in NHRA history
* First woman to advance to a final round in Funny Car in NHRA history
* Named 2007 Auto Club Road to the Future Award winner, which recognizes NHRA's best-performing rookie driver for the season
* She has advanced to four final rounds in Funny Car, winning once and posting three runner-up finishes
* Voted "Hottest Athlete" during a 2007 nationwide poll conducted by AOL, where she defeated many notable athletes for the title, including New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady for the overall title and IRL racer Danica Patrick in the female category
* During her sportsman career, she earned her first career victory in Top Alcohol Dragster at the prestigious Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis in 2005
* Later in 2005, she shared an emotional winner's circle with her father, John Force, at Auto Club NHRA Finals in Pomona, Calif., as she won in Top Alcohol Dragster and he won in Funny Car at the same event; They remain the only father-daughter to win the same NHRA event

Tony Schumacher career highlights
* Five-time NHRA POWERade Series world champion, including last four in a row (1999, 2004-'07), an NHRA Top Fuel record
* First driver in NHRA history to earn four consecutive Top Fuel world championships, also tied Joe Amato for most Top Fuel championships in NHRA history (five)
* Six-time winner of the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, the world's most prestigious drag race
* Holds national records for time (4.428 seconds) and speed (336.15 mph) in Top Fuel
* Has earned 46 NHRA victories
* Has earned 50 NHRA No. 1 qualifying awards
* Son of Funny Car pioneer Don Schumacher

Past ESPY Hummer Like Nothing Else Award winners
2007 – LaDanian Tomlinson, NFL

Past ESPY Best Driver Award winners
2007 – Jeff Gordon, NASCAR
2006 – Tony Stewart, NASCAR
2005 – Michael Schumacher, F1
2004 – Dale Earnhardt Jr., NASCAR
2003 – Tony Stewart, NASCAR
2002 – Michael Schumacher, F1
2001 – Bobby Labonte, NASCAR
2000 – Dale Jarrett, NASCAR
1999 – Jeff Gordon, NASCAR
1998 - Jeff Gordon, NASCAR
1997 – Jimmy Vasser, IRL
1996 – Jeff Gordon, NASCAR
1995 – Al Unser Jr., IRL
1994 – Nigel Mansell, F1
1993 - Nigel Mansell, F1
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