Indianapolis: John Force preview

Points Leader Seeks 10th Career Win at Indianapolis INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Sept. 3-6) -- John Force has won more races at Indianapolis Raceway Park than anyone with the exception of former Pro Stock Champ Bob Glidden. Nevertheless,...

Points Leader Seeks 10th Career Win at Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Sept. 3-6) -- John Force has won more races at Indianapolis Raceway Park than anyone with the exception of former Pro Stock Champ Bob Glidden.

Nevertheless, while the driver of the Castrol GTX® Start Up™ Ford Mustang has been in the winners' circle as often at IRP as Don "the Snake" Prudhomme and more often than both Ed "the Ace" McCulloch, and "Big Daddy" Don Garlits, he wasn't one of the "Legends of Indy" recognized by the NHRA during its countdown to this week's 50th anniversary Mac Tools U.S. Nationals.

Apparently it's a timing issue because the only difference between Force and those other "legends" is that the majority of his nine IRP victories were celebrated on Sunday rather than on Monday.

The current POWERade points leader has won five times in the Skoal Showdown (a.k.a., the Big Bud Shootout), the official "bonus race" for the sport's Funny Car drivers, but "just" four times on Labor Day.

However, that shouldn't diminish the accomplishment. If anything, it should enhance it because, strange as it might seem, the payoff for winning the Showdown always has been larger than the one for winning the actual U.S. Nationals, contested this Monday for the 44th time at IRP.

Suffice it to say that while he is one IRP win shy of Glidden's total (nine U.S. Nationals titles plus a victory in the 1988 Pro Stock Challenge, the normally-aspirated equivalent of the Skoal Showdown), Force has won more money at IRP over the last 18 seasons than ANYONE more than $700,000 in winners' purses alone including a $50,000 "double-up bonus" in 1996 when, for the second time in his career, he was able to win the bonus race and the U.S. Nationals on the same weekend.

That same "double up" opportunity exists this weekend.

Force, who two weeks ago earned his record 113th tour victory when he won at Memphis, Tenn., comes in as the No. 1 seed in the Skoal Showdown, the result of his qualifying performance in events contested since last year's U.S. Nationals.

Moreover, on the strength of four 2004 victories, he leads the POWERade Funny Car standings by 220 points in an ongoing bid to reclaim the title he lost last year to teammate Tony Pedregon.

While he has won $439,500 in 20 previous appearances in the Skoal Showdown, there is no doubt about where Force's focus lies in preparation for the holiday weekend.

"We want to thank Budweiser and now Skoal for funding the (Funny Car bonus) program," said the 12-time series champion. "To run for $100,000 is a big deal and we feel like we have a good shot at it. But, bottom line, my goal this year is to win back the championship and that means we need to go rounds on Monday..

"We've got a good lead, but it's not over. There's six races left. That's the same number as 1992 when Cruz (Pedregon, Tony's brother) won five-in-a-row and got around us. So we know it can happen.

"If we win the Showdown, that would help the budget," Force said, "but if we win (the Nationals), I might finally get a little sleep."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , John Force , Bob Glidden , Don Garlits