Concord, NC — Donny Schatz and Joey Saldana are among the finalists, representing 10 different series for the 2009 SPEED Performer of the Year Award, which will be announced at the 4th Annual SPEED Performance Awards in February.
Schatz, who was the runner-up in SPEED Performer of the Year voting in 2007, made history by claiming his fourth consecutive World of Outlaws championship this past season, making him the only driver other than 20-time series champion Steve Kinser to accomplish this feat. Schatz also won his 100th career A-Feature with the series, becoming just the fifth driver in the 30-plus year history of the series to cross the century mark. He also captured his fourth consecutive win in the Knoxville Nationals, to join Kinser as the only other driver on that list.
Schatz picked up a win on SPEED in 2009 at the famed Kings Royal at Eldora Speedway for the second time in his career, pocketing $50,000 at the half-mile which is owned by his car owner, NASCAR star Tony Stewart. The North Dakota native used a series-best 39 Top-Five finishes en route to claiming the World of Outlaws title by a mere 19 points over Jason Meyers in the closest points race in series history.
Schatz, who won a total of 12 World of Outlaws A-Feature events in 2009, was also victorious twice at Volusia Speedway Park in the season opening Florida DIRTcar Nationals, as well as at Canandaigua Speedway, Cedar Lake Speedway, Eldora Speedway, K-C Raceway, Knoxville Raceway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Lawrenceburg Speedway and River Cities Speedway.
Saldana led the World of Outlaws in 2009 with 21 overall wins, with 20 of those being A-Feature triumphs, making him just the fifth driver ever to accomplish that feat, joining Steve Kinser, Sammy Swindell, Doug Wolfgang and Mark Kinser. He wound up third in the series standings in the closest-ever three-way points race with Schatz and Jason Meyers.
Saldana was victorious four times in 2009 in events that were televised on SPEED. His first triumph came live on May 22 in the Outlaws Showdown at The Dirt Track @ Lowe’s Motor Speedway with his car owner, NASCAR star Kasey Kahne in attendance. Saldana used an impressive pass of Schatz in lapped traffic to take the lead and ultimately the win. The native of Brownsburg, Indiana claimed both nights of the Boot Hill Showdown at Dodge City Raceway Park in Kansas in June, with the cameras from SPEED capturing all of the action. He capped off the best season of his World of Outlaws career by winning the finale of the World Finals at The Dirt Track @ Lowe’s Motor Speedway in November, again live on SPEED.
The 2009 SPEED Performer of the Year will be selected by a panel including Mario Andretti, “Wind Tunnel” host Dave Despain, veteran broadcasters Bob Varsha and Ralph Sheheen, SPEEDtv.com writers Robin Miller and Tom Jensen, versatile racers Tommy Kendall and Dorsey Schroeder and a select group of SPEED motor sports producers. The winner receives the Mario Andretti Trophy, created by bronze artist Elie Hazak.
Nine additional “Fan chosen” SPEED Performance Awards are open for voting at www.speedperformanceawards.com through Dec. 20, with winners being announced as part of a one-hour television special in February.
Other finalists for the 2009 SPEED Performer of the Year include: David Brabham (ALMS), Kyle Busch (NASCAR), Jenson Button (Formula One), Scott Dixon (IndyCar), Dario Franchitti (IndyCar), Alex Gurney/Jon Fogarty (Grand-Am), Jimmie Johnson (NASCAR), Mark Martin (NASCAR), Valentino Rossi (MotoGP), James Stewart (Supercross), Tony Schumacher (NHRA), Ben Spies (World Superbike) and Sebastian Vettel (Formula One).
The World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series is brought to fans across the country by many important sponsors and partners, including: Armor All (Official Car Care Products), Crane Cams (Official Valvetrain), Hoosier Racing Tires (Official Racing Tires), Fusion Energy Boost (Official Energy Boost), Quaker State (Official Motor Oil), SuperClean (Official Cleaner-Degreaser), VP Racing (Official Racing Fuel); in addition to contingency sponsors, Jake’s Custom Golf Carts, KSE Race Products, Penske Shocks, Racing Electronics, S&S Volvo; Engine Builder’s Challenge participants Don Ott Racing Engines, Kistler Engines, Shaver Specialties and Speedway Engines; and Chassis Builder’s Challenge participants J&J Auto Racing, Maxim Racing and XXX Race Company.