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Force accused of tanking race at Indy
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CLERMONT, Ind.Robert Hight faced a tall order at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, the last race of the NHRA regular season, to rally from 12th in points into the top 10 and the Countdown to 1. He needed to win a lot of rounds and have certain competitors lose at the right times to make the Funny Car playoff. Was one of those competitors his boss 14-time champion and drag racing icon John Force? Hight and Force met in the semifinals of Monday's eliminations, and up to that point the bracket had broken perfectly for the man 12th in Funny Car points. Teammate and eventual race winner Ashley Force Hood beat Don Schumacher Racing's Matt Hagan in the first round, eliminating the driver who stood between Hight and all-important 10th place.
John Force, safely in the Countdown himself, beat Cruz Pedregon in the second round. Pedregon, last year's series champion, was 10th in points. That set up a matchup between Force and Hight, which Hight needed to win to kick Pedregon out of the top 10 and put himself in. "I don't think there's a person on the property that doesn't think Robert Hight isn't going to win against John Force, short of some miracle," Pedregon said in his hauler after his second-round loss and before the semifinals. "I have a gut feeling that John's car is going to run off an 18 (.180 reaction time, roughly three times longer than average) and run slower, or smoke the tires." The facts: Force had a .209-second reaction time (his season average coming to Indy was .086), got the car out of the groove and spun the tires halfway down the track and clocked a 5.819-second elapsed time at 133.14 mph. Hight had a .143 reaction time, well off his usual effort, and with what he called a "fuel system failure" clocked 4.261 at 279.09 mph.
|"That race was predetermined"|
| Don Schumacher|
Eight is great
|The Force's provide too much drama for your taste? Elsewhere at the U.S. Nationals, Tony Schumacher made it look easy as he romped to victory and tied NHRA legend Don Garlits.|