Force survives Showdown, U.S. Nationals field set

John Force conquered the elite Skoal Showdown field this afternoon at O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis to pocket $100,000. The Funny Car bonus event was contested amidst the final two rounds of qualifications for the NHRA Mac Tools U.S.

John Force conquered the elite Skoal Showdown field this afternoon at O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis to pocket $100,000. The Funny Car bonus event was contested amidst the final two rounds of qualifications for the NHRA Mac Tools U.S. Nationals. Topping the ladders for Monday's final eliminations are Matt Smith, Greg Anderson, John Force and Tony Schumacher.

The eight contenders for the 2006 Skoal Showdown were determined by qualifying points earned since the 2005 U.S. Nationals. Vying for the six-figure bonus were Force, Tommy Johnson Jr., Robert Hight, Whit Bazemore, Gary Scelzi, Tony Pedregon, Eric Medlen and Ron Capps.

Force defeated Pedregon and teammate Medlen to reach the final round. There he faced off with Johnson Jr., who knocked off Scelzi and Hight in earlier rounds. The quicker draw off the line, Force led his opponent the entire quarter mile, taking a quick 4.789 second journey.

"Today we were cloud readers," Force said. Of the final round he added, "One cloud caught (the track) and another was behind it and moving slow. We had to make the call (on the setup) and that was the call that won the race."

Force grabbed a giant $100,000 check in victory lane, then watched from the return lane as his briefcase full of cash fell from the sky escorted by a precise skydiver. The NHRA has an extra $50,000 ready to fall from the sky if Force can also win the Nationals on Monday.

"We finally got our consistency back and I'm back on my game," Force shared. "Tomorrow is critical though. It's back to the points and I'm going to focus."

Force was able to focus on the Showdown today after securing his spot in the U.S. Nationals during Saturday night's qualification round. Track temps today above 100 degrees created a challenge for teams still trying to break into the top sixteen. Several NHRA race regulars will be regular spectators Monday after failing to make the cut.

Force's 4.691 second Low E.T. was never in jeopardy today. He's followed on the Funny Car ladder by Hight, Johnson Jr., Bazemore and Medlen. 2005 Nationals champion Del Worsham will not have a chance to defend his title after he failed to make the final Funny Car field.

Pro Stock Champion Greg Anderson broke two track records Saturday night with his 6.662 Low E.T. and 206.95 mph top speed, not to mention he locked in his 50th career number one qualifier.

"That's an awesome number," Anderson acknowledged. "I never thought I would achieve it and coming against some serious competition. The guys in the shop, they're the ones doing it."

As for The Nationals, Anderson shared, "I love Indy. Everything seems to go our way here. It's going to be a knock down drag out tomorrow, but we have a great shot of going all the way. Honestly I feel at the top of my game right now."

Sharing some strategy he added, "The starting line is the key; getting off the starting line without bogging the motor or spinning the tires. You gotta hit that sixty foot mark."

Kurt Johnson, Jason Line, V Gaines and Mike Edwards round out the Pro Stock top five. Left out of top sixteen are Jim Yates, Erica Enders and Richie Stevens.

Top Fuel drivers united to create the quickest field in NHRA history with the number sixteen bump spot achieving an E.T. of 4.585 seconds. Top Fuel champion Tony Schumacher stayed atop the bracket with his Low E.T. of 4.475 seconds, followed by Larry Dixon, Doug Kalitta, Rod Fuller and Melanie Troxel. NHRA veteran Clay Millican was unable to make a good pass and will miss the show.

Matt Smith's record breaking 6.994 seconds run held up for a number one spot on the Pro Stock Motorcycle ladder. He's followed on the rungs by Andrew Hines, Karen Stoffer, Chip Ellis and Ryan Schnitz. Top competitor Craig Treble did not make the cut.

Opening ceremonies for the U.S. Nationals are scheduled to begin Monday morning at 9:30am EST with the first round of eliminations at 11:00am.

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Clay Millican , Larry Dixon , Kurt Johnson , Tony Pedregon , Del Worsham , Ron Capps , John Force , Tony Schumacher , Gary Scelzi , Doug Kalitta , Greg Anderson , Craig Treble , Karen Stoffer , Melanie Troxel , Jason Line , Ryan Schnitz , Andrew Hines , Matthew Smith , Eric Medlen , Chip Ellis , Robert Hight , Rod Fuller , Mike Edwards , Tommy Johnson Jr.