Commentary

'The Sarge' in command in Top Fuel

Updated: January 7, 2010, 11:21 AM ET
By Tom McKean | ESPN.com

Larry Dixon, Tony SchumacherNHRALarry Dixon, left, and Tony Schumacher staged a battle for the ages in the Top Fuel class in 2009.

We have introduced you to Sebastien Bourdais, Sam Hornish Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Tom Kristensen, Sebastein Loeb, Valentino Rossi, Bern Schneider and Michael Schumacher as we've rolled out the nine candidates for ESPN.com's Driver of the Decade -- in alphabetical order -- one at a time. Our panel of experts has voted for its top drivers. You will get your turn in a SportsNation fan vote on Friday.

The Driver of the Decade will be revealed Monday.

Meet the ninth and final candidate …

Tony Schumacher
Series: NHRA Top Fuel

By the slimmest of margins, Tony Schumacher won the Top Fuel title in 2009. His two-point win over Larry Dixon was the closest margin in Top Fuel history.

However, that should not belie Schumacher's utter dominance this decade. His title this season was his sixth straight in the very competitive Top Fuel class. Keep in mind, Schumacher won in 2009 without longtime crew chief Alan Johnson.

The season before was another banner year for Schumacher, who became the first driver in series history to win five straight Top Fuel championships. He also passed Joe Amato for the most career Top Fuel victories. Schumacher's 15 wins that season also tied an NHRA record.

Last season also saw "The Sarge" become just the sixth driver in NHRA history to complete the Western Swing Sweep (Denver, Sonoma and Seattle).

Consistency has been the name of the game: Schumacher has won at least one race in eight straight seasons, a Top Fuel record. To cap it all off, he was named the 2008 Driver of the Year, becoming just the third NHRA driver to win the honor in its 42-year history.

Back in 2005, his 415-point margin of victory was the largest in Top Fuel history.

Tom McKean is a studio researcher at ESPN.