Top Seed Hight Will Oppose Bazemore in Skoal Showdown Opener (1 Viewer)

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Top Seed Hight Will Oppose Bazemore in Skoal Showdown Opener
Force Versus Pedregon; Medlen Versus Capps in Other First Round Matches​

CLERMONT, Ind. -- For the first time since 1989, someone other than John Force will start from the No. 1 position in Saturday's Skoal Showdown, the Funny Car bonus race contested in conjunction with the 52nd annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at O'Reilly Raceway Park.

Robert Hight, in only his second season at the wheel of the Automobile Club of Southern California Ford Mustang, earned the No. 1 seed on the strength of seven No. 1 starts this season, the most recent just two weeks ago at Memphis, Tenn.

Hight, 37, led a sweep of the top three starting spots for John Force Racing and Ford Motor Co. Force, his boss, teammate and father-in-law, qualified second in the Castrol GTX Ford Mustang and Eric Medlen third in the Castrol SYNTEC Mustang.

Force, who is making a record 22nd consecutive appearance in the Showdown, has gone to the finals 11 times, has five wins (1987, 1990, 1993, 1996, 2000) and is closing in on yet another milestone. The 57-year-old icon is just $27,000 away from becoming the first driver in either of the Showdown programs to surpass $1 million in total earnings.

Force's $973,500 individual total includes $514,000 in bonuses for qualifying No. 1 130 times in his career and $459,500 in purse money from 23 Showdown appearances. The other Team Force drivers have contributed $501,000 in Showdown money, the bulk coming from former team members Tony Pedregon and Gary Densham, who won the Showdown in 2003 and 2004, respectively.

First round pairings (final point totals in parenthesis): 1. Robert Hight, Automobile Club of Southern California Ford Mustang, 3,495 points, vs. 8. Whit Bazemore, Matco Dodge Charger, 2,850; 2. John Force, Castrol GTX Ford Mustang, 3,425, vs. 7. Tony Pedregon, Q Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 2,920; 3. Eric Medlen, Castrol SYNTEC Ford Mustang, 3,370, vs. 6. Ron Capps, Brut Dodge Charger, 2,965; 4. Gary Scelzi, Oakley Dodge Charger, 3,035, vs. 5. Tommy Johnson Jr., Skoal Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 3,025.
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