TOPEKA, Kan. --
The best in Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock will once again race for the coveted Midwestern Wally during one of the biggest weekends of the year. Shawn Langdon (Top Fuel), Johnny Gray (Funny Car) and Jeg Coughlin (Pro Stock) were last year's winners of the event that will be televised nationally on ESPN2.
The Kansas Nationals is one of the marquee stops in the Midwest and a place where fans can always expect to see history. Heartland Park Topeka was the site of the first four-second and 300-mph passes in Funny Car, set by Chuck Etchells and Jim Epler respectively. The action is sure to heat up on Memorial Day weekend.
Last season in Top Fuel, Langdon scored his second win of the season, defeating Tony Schumacher to win the event. Langdon would eventually win five more races and end the season as the 2013 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Top Fuel world champion. The driver of the Al-Anabi Racing dragster will try to make it two in a row at the multi-purpose facility in Topeka.
Antron Brown and Doug Kalitta (2006 Kansas winner) have been the hottest drivers to start the season and both will be looking to add their next victory to their resumes. Others to watch in the Top Fuel field include 2011 Topeka winner Spencer Massey, 2010 winner Tony Schumacher, Steve Torrence, defending Auto Club of Southern California Road the Future Award winner Brittany Force and J.R. Todd.
Two-time Funny Car world champion Cruz Pedregon has four career wins and will be gunning for a fifth and first since 1995. Ron Capps would love to tie Pedregon with four wins at the facility but will also be challenged by Robert Hight and Jack Beckman, who have two and one wins at the track respectively. Defending event winner Johnny Gray retired after last season but his replacement, Iowa native Tommy Johnson Jr., is in great equipment and could have his Don Schumacher Racing car back in victory lane here.
Alexis DeJoria, Matt Hagan, Courtney Force, Del Worsham, Tony Pedregon, Tim Wilkerson and Bob Tasca III are a few of the other Funny Car competitors who are expected to compete for the victory.
Defending event winner Coughlin will be looking for a third career Pro Stock win in Topeka with victories last season and in 2000. Coughlin's teammate Allen Johnson also has two career wins at the Kansas Nationals and both will be trying to get their Dodge Darts to victory lane for a third time.
Gray Motorsports teammates Dave Connolly and Shane Gray have both secured victories at Topeka and are looking for their first victories of the season. Two event wins already this season, Erica Enders-Stevens leads the Pro Stock points and is looking for an ninth career victory and first at the Kansas Nationals. Jason Line, Vincent Nobile, V Gaines and Chris McGaha also figure to be major factors at Heartland Park Topeka.
As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they're granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity in motorsports gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and enjoy some cherished face time and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
Fans also will want to visit NHRA's popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family.
Mello Yello Series qualifying begins Friday, May 23, with sessions at 4:30 and 7 p.m. The final two qualifying sessions will take place Saturday, May 24, at 1:30 and 4 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, May 25.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, log on to www.NHRAtix.com or call (800) 884-NHRA (6472). Children 12 and younger are free.
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