Labor Day Funny Car Showdown preview

HIGHT LEADS SKOAL SHOWDOWN QUALIFIERS IN PURSUIT OF $100,000 PRIZE CLERMONT, Ind. -- Sophomore Funny Car driver Robert Hight will start from the No. 1 position in the Skoal Showdown on Sept. 3 at O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis,...

HIGHT LEADS SKOAL SHOWDOWN QUALIFIERS IN PURSUIT OF $100,000 PRIZE

CLERMONT, Ind. -- Sophomore Funny Car driver Robert Hight will start from the No. 1 position in the Skoal Showdown on Sept. 3 at O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis, as he goes for his first victory in the special bonus event for qualified Funny Car drivers.

The Skoal Showdown, a high-stakes, high-speed race featuring the eight quickest and most consistent Funny Car teams from the last season, is a lucrative race-within-a-race held during the 52nd annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, the world's most prestigious drag race.

The winner of the 25th annual Skoal Showdown will earn a $100,000 bonus from U.S. Tobacco. Any driver who can win the Skoal Showdown and the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals will earn a $50,000 'Double-Up' bonus from NHRA.

A race day purse of $147,000 is available for the eight drivers competing in the Skoal Showdown. The Showdown runner-up will earn $15,000, while the two semifinalists will earn $6,000 each. The four first round finishers will earn $5,000 apiece.

Hight, from Anaheim Hills, Calif., was the No. 1 qualifier seven times in his Auto Club Ford Mustang and posted top five qualifying efforts at 17 of the 23 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series events that comprise the 2006 Skoal Showdown. It is Hight's second career appearance in the Skoal Showdown and his first as the No. 1 seed, and he will face veteran Whit Bazemore in the opening round. Bazemore, who drives the Matco Tools Dodge Charger, is making his 12th career start and is looking for his first victory in the bonus event.

John Force holds down the second position and will make a record 23rd career start in the Skoal Showdown. He'll face former teammate Tony Pedregon in the opening round. Force is a five-time winner of the event, while Pedregon's only Skoal Showdown victory came in 2003.

Eric Medlen and three-time Skoal Showdown winner Ron Capps will battle in the first round and Gary Scelzi and Tommy Johnson Jr. also will square off in the opening round.

Drivers accumulated points for the Skoal Showdown at 23 NHRA national events between last year's Mac Tools U.S. Nationals up to the 2006 O'Reilly NHRA Mid-South Nationals at Memphis (Tenn.) Motorsports Park. A $4,000 bonus was awarded to the No. 1 qualifier at each of those races.

Last year Del Worsham raced to victory over Medlen in the final round. Worsham will not be able to defend his title as he failed to qualify for this year's Showdown.

Skoal Showdown rounds are scheduled for 12:30 and 4 p.m. on Sept. 3.

<pre> 2006 SKOAL SHOWDOWN FINAL STANDINGS 1. Robert Hight Anaheim Hills, Calif. Auto Club Ford Mustang 3,495 2. John Force Yorba Linda, Calif. Castrol GTX Ford Mustang 3,415 3. Eric Medlen Indianapolis Castrol Syntec Ford Mustang 3,370 4. Gary Scelzi Fresno, Calif. Mopar/Oakley Dodge Charger 3,035 5. Tommy Johnson Jr. Avon, Ind. Skoal Chevy Monte Carlo 3,025 6. Ron Capps Carlsbad, Calif. Brut Dodge Charger 2,965 7. Tony Pedregon Chino Hills, Calif. Q-Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo 2,920 8. Whit Bazemore Indianapolis Matco Tools Dodge Charger 2,850

2006 SKOAL SHOWDOWN ROUND PAIRINGS

FIRST ROUND Hight vs. Bazemore Force vs. Pedregon Medlen vs. Capps Scelzi vs. Johnson

SEMIFINALS Hight-Bazemore winner vs. Scelzi-Johnson winner Force-Pedregon winner vs. Medlen-Capps winner

FINAL (4 p.m., Sept. 3)

-credit: nhra

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , Del Worsham , Whit Bazemore , Ron Capps , John Force , Gary Scelzi , Eric Medlen , Robert Hight , Tommy Johnson Jr.