TOPEKA, Kan. --
This season, the driver of the Candlewood Suites Top Fuel dragster will try to claim his third victory at the popular Kansas multipurpose motorsports complex as the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series pulls into the sprawling Midwest facility for the 25th annual NHRA Kansas Nationals, May 17-19.
The native Australian, who is off to a bit of a slow start so far this season, is eager to pick up the pace and defend his event win at Topeka and add a fourth coveted Wally trophy to his mantle.
"Kalitta Motorsports and I have enjoyed a lot of success at Heartland Park Topeka," said Grubnic, currently 10th in points with three quarterfinal appearances as his best results so far in 2013. "The fans in Topeka are some of the best in the country. They open their town up to us as if it were their house. We always have a great time and the people are so friendly that it makes the event even more enjoyable. We always look forward to coming back and adding to those great memories. We still have our standing goal of winning events, which we have yet to achieve. We were fortunate last year with our win to archive our goals, and our plan is to continue with the same this year."
Along with Grubnic, the entire Kalitta Motorsports Team is confident that their hard work will pay off and bring home some season wins.
"We are currently working on a new engine combination that once Connie (Kalitta, crew chief and team owner) has fine-tuned to his liking we are confident will help us to defend our Topeka title," the 50-year-old resident of Ennis, Mont. said. "Connie Kalitta, James Riola, and the entire crew are doing a fabulous job with the Candlewood Suites race car."
In order to defend his win at Topeka, Grubnic knows he will have to hold off a tough contingent of challengers, including national speed record holder and last season's Topeka runner-up Spencer Massey, seven-time world champ and current points leader Tony Schumacher, Al-Anabi Racing's Shawn Langdon, teammate and Mac Tools driver Doug Kalitta, GEICO driver Morgan Lucas and rookie Brittany Force in her Castrol Edge dragster.
In Pro Stock, defending world champion Allen Johnson is a two-time Topeka winner in his Team Mopar Dodge Avenger. His new teammate, Jeg Coughlin, is also a past winner at Topeka and will be looking for more success in his JEGS.com/Mopar Dodge Avenger. Series points leader Mike Edwards, who has claimed two victories this season, and Greg Anderson, are also past Topeka winners and will be trying to claim another victory there. Others to watch in the 200 mph factory hot rod class include Erica Enders-Stevens, Vincent Nobile, Jason Line and Shane Gray, a past Topeka winner who has been to the last three final rounds.
The NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series also will thrill the crowds during the weekend with intense side-by-side competition.
To kick off the Kansas Nationals, fans will get a sneak preview of the event at the annual Speed Fest on Thursday, May 16, noon to 7 p.m. in the heart of Topeka, on 8th Avenue and Kansas Avenue. This free event provides fans the opportunity to see some amazing cars on display and meet some of the biggest NHRA stars for autographs including Robert Hight, Brandon Bernstein, Shawn Langdon, Morgan Lucas, Allen Johnson, and Erica Enders-Stevens to name a few. Autograph sessions will be held from 6-7 p.m.
NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will begin on Friday, May 17, with sessions at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. The final two qualifying sessions will take place Saturday, May 18, at 12:15 and 2:30 p.m. Final eliminations will begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday, May 19.
To purchase tickets, please call (800) 884-NHRA (6472). Children 12 and younger will be admitted free into general admission areas at the NHRA Kansas Nationals when accompanied by a paid adult. Tickets are also available online at www.NHRATIX.com.
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