Johnson leaving Schumacher to field two-car team in '09

Alan Johnson, one of the leading Top Fuel crew chiefs in NHRA history, will leave driver Tony Schumacher at the end of this season to field a two-car team in 2009 through a partnership with Qatar-based Al-Anabi Racing.

Johnson is a seven-time NHRA Top Fuel champion with 76 professional-level national event victories to his credit, including Schumacher's win Monday in the U.S. Nationals.

The new team will field a Top Fuel dragster and a Funny Car, but the drivers have not yet been announced.

"This is an exciting opportunity for Alan Johnson Racing," said Johnson, who has tuned Schumacher to the last four Top Fuel titles and the current points lead. "We look forward to our relationship with Al-Anabi Racing and the people of Qatar. It's widely known that my goal for quite some time now has been to become a team owner again, and this is my best opportunity to achieve that goal."

Including his sportsman-level successes with his late brother, Blaine, Johnson has amassed 11 championships in his career, four in Top Alcohol and seven more in Top Fuel. He has also tuned his drivers to eight national records over the years, including six elapsed time marks and two top speed records.

Heading the new partnership is Sheikh Khalid Bin Hamad Al Thani, who hopes to promote awareness of motorsports in Qatar. As a result of his efforts, Al-Anabi Racing has emerged as one of the leading drag racing teams in the region and is nearing completion of a state of the art drag race track in Qatar. Built by U.S. experts, the track is expected to host its first race in December 2008.