Sponsors May Come and Go, But Coil is a Constant in Showdown Crew Chief Makes 23rd Appearance in FC Bonus Race INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. â€“ With Budweiser's departure as the title sponsor, there remains but one constant in the NHRA Funny Car...
Sponsors May Come and Go, But Coil is a Constant in Showdown Crew Chief
Makes 23rd Appearance in FC Bonus Race
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – With Budweiser's departure as the title sponsor, there remains but one constant in the NHRA Funny Car bonus race that this week celebrates its 23rd birthday.
With the exit of the founding sponsor, only crew chief extraordinaire Austin Coil, architect of the John Force Racing dynasty, can claim direct involvement in EVERY incarnation of the re-christened Skoal Showdown, a race born in 1982 as the Big Bud Shootout.
In fact, Coil is the only driver, owner or crew chief to have placed a car in the lineup each and every season the race has been contested in conjunction with the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals.
Coil, who claimed two NHRA Funny Car championships before he came to John Force Racing, Inc., in 1985, won the inaugural Big Bud Shootout in 1982 with Frank Hawley as his driver.
He and Force subsequently won at Indianapolis Raceway Park in 1987, 1990, 1993, 1996 and 2000 and were runners-up five other times, most recently in 2003.
The Hall of Fame mechanic, who on Wednesday celebrates his 59th birthday, earned $25,000 for his 1982 victory. He and Force will race for a $100,000 top prize on Sunday. Coil's total earnings in the Showdown? $469,500, $375,000 of that total in winners' purses.
Force, who has driven the Coil-tuned Castrol GTX Start Up Ford Mustang to four victories this season, will go into Sunday's event as the No. 1 seed, a position he has occupied 13 times in the last 14 seasons. He will oppose first time qualifier Phil Burkart Jr. in one of the key first round races.
Also in the Skoal Showdown field are Force's teammate, Gary Densham, the No. 2 seed at the wheel of the Automobile Club of Southern California Ford Mustang; Dodge drivers Gary Scelzi and Whit Bazemore; and Chevrolet drivers Del Worsham, Tony Pedregon and Burkart.
Densham, winless in four previous Skoal Showdown appearances, will oppose Worsham in another first round match.
Pedregon won last year's Skoal Showdown in a Castrol-backed John Force Racing Ford. He left the team at season's end to join brother Cruz in forming Pedregon Brothers Racing.
Although he can't match Coil's Skoal Showdown credentials. Force qualified this year for the 21st time. His competitive record in the bonus race is 31-15.
BY THE NUMBERS....
5 Skoal Showdown victories for John Force
6 Skoal Showdown victories for crew chief Austin Coil.
13 Seasons John Force has been the No. 1 seed for the Skoal Showdown
100 In thousands, the cash purse earmarked for Sunday's race winner.