Fields set for U.S. Smokeless Showdown, Ringers Pro Bike Battle


Qualifying at the Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals was a nail-biting affair because the race was the final event where racers in Funny Car and Pro Stock Motorcycle could make the fields for the lucrative bonus events at the upcoming Mac Tools U.S. Nationals. The bike field didn't changer, but there were major shake-ups in Funny Car in qualifying for the NHRA U.S. Smokeless Showdown.

Del Worsham and John Force entered the event needing a lot of good things to happen for them in qualifying and bad things to befall those in front of them if they hoped to crack into the Showdown field, and they got their wishes as both made the elite eight after several surprising DNQs.

Worsham entered the race tied with Jack Beckman for ninth, five points outside the field, and John Force entered race in 11th, 40 points behind eighth-place Gary Scelzi. When Scelzi and Jerry Toliver, who entered race seventh, both failed to qualify, that opened the door for Worsham and Force. Force gained 140 points by qualifying fifth and Worsham 120 points by ranking ninth; both entered the event thinking they'd have to qualify higher than they did, not expecting Scelzi and Toliver to miss the field.

Beckman ended up ninth, five points behind Force. He would have had to qualify two positions higher to have locked out Force.

Ashley Force entered the event second in Showdown points but moved around teammate Robert Hight, who struggled in qualifying, and will oppose her father in the opening round Sunday at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals.

First-round pairings:

Ashley Force versus John Force
Robert Hight versus Del Worsham
Tony Pedregon versus Cruz Pedregon
Tim Wilkerson versus Ron Capps

By qualifying No. 1 in Pro Stock Motorcycle, reigning POWERade world champ Matt Smith eased past Andrew Hines for the second seed in the Ringers Gloves Pro Bike Battle, which will be contested Saturday in Indy. Chip Ellis held onto his top ranking.

Hector Arana was the only rider with a shot at making the field based on qualifying in Reading, and though he outqualified eighth-place Matt Guidera by several positions, he fell 30 points shy of making the field.

First-round pairings:

Chip Ellis versus Matt Guidera
Matt Smith versus Chris Rivas
Andrew Hines versus Karen Stoffer
Eddie Krawiec versus Angelle Sampey

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