12.4.12 (Via SPEED) - In one of the strongest and most diverse fields in the history of the award, 16 racers from 13 different series have been nominated for the seventh annual presentation of the Mario Andretti Trophy as the SPEED Performer of the Year.
“This might be one of the most difficult decisions to date,” said Andretti, the only driver to win the Indianapolis 500, Daytona 500 and Formula One World Championship. “Every year, a few racers seem to elevate themselves above the rest, but this is a season loaded with extremely strong and passionate performances that all deserve consideration.”
Nominees include 2010 SPEED Performer of the Year Sebastian Vettel (F1), Fernando Alonso (F1), Brad Keselowski (NASCAR), Jorge Lorenzo (MotoGP), Casey Stoner (MotoGP), Ryan Hunter-Reay (IndyCar), Antron Brown (NHRA), Kyle Larson (USAC), Sammy Swindell (WoO), Sebastien Loeb (World Rally), Andre Lotterer (WEC), Max Biaggi (World Superbike), Scott Pruett (Grand-Am), Donny Schatz (WoO), Josh Hayes (AMA Pro Superbike) and Ryan Villopoto (Supercross).
Andretti will present the trophy, a 100-pound sculpture created by bronze artist Elie Hazak, as part of a SPEED Center special January 27.
Representing both four-wheel and two-wheel efforts across the globe, the Mario Andretti Trophy goes to the racer who puts a premium on winning races, shines on the sport’s biggest stages and does it all with a measure of sportsmanship and class.
The 2012 SPEED Performer of the Year is selected by a panel including Hall-of-Fame racing legends Andretti, Dan Gurney, Darrell Waltrip, Don Prudhomme, Scott Russell, "Wind Tunnel" host Dave Despain, veteran broadcasters Bob Varsha, Ralph Sheheen and Leigh Diffey, SPEED.com writers Robin Miller, Tom Jensen and Marshall Pruett, versatile racers Tommy Kendall and Dorsey Schroeder and a select group of SPEED motor sports producers.
Former winners and runners-up:
- 2011 – Tony Stewart, NASCAR; Casey Stoner, MotoGP
- 2010 – Sebastian Vettel, F1; Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR
- 2009 – Tony Schumacher, NHRA; Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR
- 2008 – Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR; Tony Schumacher, NHRA
- 2007 – Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR; Donny Schatz, WoO
- 2006 – Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR. Nicky Hayden, MotoGP