FORCE RACES TO SIXTH SKOAL SHOWDOWN VICTORY, ALSO GRABS NO. 1 QUALIFYING POSITION IN FUNNY CAR Schumacher, Anderson and Smith also will lead their categories into eliminations at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals INDIANAPOLIS -- John Force raced to...
FORCE RACES TO SIXTH SKOAL SHOWDOWN VICTORY, ALSO GRABS NO. 1 QUALIFYING POSITION IN FUNNY CAR
Schumacher, Anderson and Smith also will lead their categories into eliminations at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals
INDIANAPOLIS -- John Force raced to the $100,000 Skoal Showdown victory Sunday at O'Reilly Raceway Park. It was Force's sixth career win in the special bonus race for the top eight Funny Car qualifiers from the last 12 months.
Force also was the No. 1 qualifier in his category at the $2.6 million Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, the world's most prestigious drag race. Tony Schumacher, Greg Anderson, and Matt Smith also were No. 1 qualifiers in their respective categories at the 18th of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.
A 13-time series champion, Force used consistency to earn the Showdown trophy, beating Tony Pedregon with a 4.790, Eric Medlen with a 4.805, and Johnson with 4.789 at 327.19 mph. Johnson gave it a run in the final in his Skoal Racing Chevy Monte Carlo, posting a 4.823 at 321.04 mph, but Force simply had too much horsepower in his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang.
"This is a great day for all of John Force Racing," said Force, who was competing in this event for the 23rd time. "It takes a team like this to win one of these deals because it's so hard to win anymore. It's a lot of stress because it's so much money on the line and your sponsors really want this trophy."
In Top Fuel, Schumacher will begin race day as the favorite to win his fifth U.S. Nationals trophy. His 4.475 at 332.59 mph in his U.S. Army dragster, the fastest pass ever at this facility, earned him his ninth low qualifier award of the season and 31st of his career. He'll try to become the first Top Fuel or Funny Car driver this season to win from the No. 1 position during Monday's 11 a.m. eliminations.
"No one has won a race from the No. 1 spot this year and half of that can be blamed directly on me," Schumacher said. "I'm the dummy screwing up the curve. I know it's starting to bother Alan [Johnson, crew chief] a little bit and he really wants to win this deal tomorrow and put an end to that streak. He's motivated to win, believe me."
Force's 131st low qualifying effort brought him within five of the all-time record held by Pro Stock legend Warren Johnson, who has 136 No. 1 starts. His 4.691 at 328.54 mph from Saturday evening, probably the coolest session of the weekend, ended up being his run of record.
"Being No. 1 is good because that's a few more points on (Ron) Capps and that's a good thing because we need them all," Force said. "Every day you wonder if you're done. Every time we do something good (crew chief Austin) Coil says, 'Do you think this is our last one?' You never know, it just might be. I don't feel like I'm done yet. I got some fight left in me, but it'll run out at some point."
Anderson's 6.662 at 206.95 mph run in his Summit Racing Pontiac GTO Sunday morning reset both ends of the ORP record for Pro Stock. This marked the 10th time this year and 50th time in his career that the three-time and reigning series champion has qualified in the No. 1 position.
"This is great but I need a win," said Anderson, who last won at the season-opening race in Pomona, Calif. "It seems like an eternity since I've won and I know it won't be easy to win here. Everyone brings their best to this race because of what it means and every round will be a knock-down, drag-out fight."
Smith's track-record 6.994 at 188.70 mph from Saturday remained the best run in Pro Stock Motorcycle, awarding the Torco Buell racer his second consecutive top qualifying effort.
"This weekend's been awesome for us," Smith said. "The cooler weather was a surprise. It worked out well for us because it allowed us to make more horsepower with the motors. We love to go fast."