NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series driver Melanie Troxel, who has advanced to a Top Fuel-best seven final rounds this season, has been nominated by the Women’s Sports Foundation as a finalist for its prestigious “Sportswoman of the Year” award, it was announced today.

She will join nine other finalists at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City on Monday, Oct. 16 for the WSF Awards Dinner, where the 2006 Sportswoman of the Year will be announced.

The other finalists include: Cindy Klassen (Speedskating), Janica Kostelic (Skiing), Jessica Long (Swimmer), Amelie Mauresmo (Tennis), Chellsie Memmel (Gymnastics), Sanya Richards (Track & Field), Annika Sorenstam (Golf), Laurie Stephens (Skiing), and Hannah Teter (Snowboarder).

“It’s really an honor for me to be nominated as a Sportswoman of the Year finalist with such high achievers in a variety of sports,” said Troxel, who earlier this year was recognized for her breakout season with ESPY nominations for Best Driver and Best Female Athlete. “As a race car driver, to be recognized among these outstanding female athletes is personally rewarding to me. It also indicates the continuing growth of awareness of the unique sport of drag racing with all sports fans.”

The winner of the Sportswoman of the Year award will be determined via an online poll and sports fans can vote for Troxel or one of the other nine finalists at www.sportswomanvote.com

Troxel, 33, set an NHRA record for the most consecutive final round appearances (five) to open a season in Top Fuel. The quickest (4.458 seconds) and fastest (331.04 mph) female racer in NHRA history, she is trying to join legendary Shirley Muldowney as the only women in NHRA history to win a Top Fuel world championship title. Muldowney earned three during her driving career, the last coming in 1982.

The Denver native who now calls Avon, Ind. home is currently in second place in the POWERade Series standings in her Don Schumacher Racing owned Skull Shine/Knoll Gas/Torco Race Fuels dragster with seven events remaining in the 23-event, $50 million NHRA POWERade Series season. The next event on the schedule is the O’Reilly NHRA Mid-South Nationals, Aug. 18-20 at Memphis Motorsports Park.

Earlier this year Troxel beat out NASCAR’s Jimmie Johnson and IRL’s Helio Castroneves to win the prestigious DRIVER OF THE YEAR first quarter award, which is voted on by a distinguished panel of auto racing journalists. It is the first time in the 40-year history of the DRIVER OF THE YEAR award that a woman has won the quarterly or year-end vote.

Past Sportswoman of the Year Award winners include a who’s who of the greatest female athletes of all-time, from Annika Sorenstam and Juli Inkster to Sarah Hughes and Michelle Kwan to Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert.

The Women’s Sports Foundation, founded in 1974 by legendary tennis champion Billie Jean King, is dedicated to advancing the lives of girls and young women through sports and physical activity.