TOPEKA, Kan. — A victory at Heartland Park Topeka one year ago ended a nearly six-year winless slump for veteran Top Fuel driver David Grubnic in the highly competitive 8,000-horsepower Top Fuel category in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
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."
Jack Beckman (Funny Car) and Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) join Grubnic as the defending winners of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event in Topeka, the eighth of 24 events in the 2013 season, which will be televised on ESPN2HD.
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.
Defending NHRA Funny Car world champion Beckman in his Valvoline/MTS Dodge Charger will once again be one of the drivers to beat in the loaded Funny Car division. Some of his toughest competition will come from teammate Ron Capps, a three-time winner at Topeka, and Snap-on Tools Toyota Camry veteran driver Cruz Pedregon, who has won four times at Topeka. Last season's rookie of the year, Courtney Force, who won the season-opener at Pomona in her Traxxas Ford Mustang, also will be one to watch.
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.
As always, fans can interact with their favorite drivers because every ticket is an exclusive pit pass, allowing them to see firsthand the highly skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds. Spectators also won’t want to miss the popular interactive NHRA Nitro Alley and the NHRA Manufacturers Midway.
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. For more information about NHRA, please visit www.NHRA.com.
NHRA KANSAS NATIONALS FACT SHEET
WHAT: 25th annual NHRA Kansas Nationals, the eighth of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Drivers in three categories - Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock - earn points leading to 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championships.
WHERE: Heartland Park Topeka. From Kansas City, take the Kansas Turnpike (I-70) to the Topeka Boulevard exit and travel south to the track. From Wichita, take the Kansas Turnpike (I-335) to the Topeka Boulevard exit and travel south to the track.
WHEN: Friday through Sunday, May 17-19
FRIDAY, May 17 - LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 5 and 7 p.m.
SATURDAY, May 18 - LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 12:15 and 2:30 p.m.
SUNDAY, May 19 - Pre-race ceremonies, 10 a.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES eliminations begin at 11 a.m.
Saturday, May 18, ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise two hours of qualifying highlights at 5:30 p.m. (ET).
Sunday, May 19, ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise three hours of coverage starting at 8 p.m. (ET).
SATELLITE (Digital HD feed):
Friday, May 17, 10:30 - 11 p.m. (ET), SES 2 / Transponder 05C
Saturday, May 18, 7:30 - 8 p.m. (ET), SES 2 / Transponder 05C
Sunday, May 19, 7:30 - 8 p.m. (ET), SES 2 / Transponder 05C
(3800 MHz, horizontal; Data Rate: 40.46147055 Mbp; Symbol Rate: 29.27 Ms; FEC: ¾; Bandwidth: 36 Mhz)
Video news release contains race action highlights each day and winners’ interviews on Sunday.
2012 EVENT WINNERS: David Grubnic, Top Fuel; Jack Beckman, Funny Car; Allen Johnson, Pro Stock
MOST VICTORIES: John Force, 9, FC; Scott Kalitta, 6, TF; Warren Johnson, 5, PS, Cruz Pedregon, 4, FC; Greg Anderson, 4, PS.
Top Fuel - 3.745 seconds by Morgan Lucas, May ’12; 329.10 mph by Spencer Massey, May ’12.
Funny Car - 4.046 seconds by Cruz Pedregon, May ’12; 315.56 mph by Pedregon, May ’12.
Pro Stock - 6.566 seconds by Jason Line, May ’12; 211.30 mph by Greg Anderson, May ’12.
Top Fuel - 3.701 sec. by Antron Brown, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.; 332.18 mph by Spencer Massey, April ’12, Charlotte, N.C.
Funny Car - 3.986 sec. by Jack Beckman, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.; 320.58 mph by Beckman, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.
Pro Stock - 6.471 sec. by Mike Edwards, April ’13, Charlotte, N.C.; 214.35 mph by Jason Line, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.
TICKETS: For tickets call (785) 682-RACE (7223). Tickets also available online at www.NHRATIX.com.
NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES POINTS STANDINGS
GLENDORA, Calif. -- Point standings (top 10) following the seventh of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series:
Top Fuel: 1. Tony Schumacher, 564; 2. Antron Brown, 559; 3. Shawn Langdon, 506; 4. Spencer Massey, 467; 5. Doug Kalitta, 410; 6. Khalid alBalooshi, 385; 7. Brandon Bernstein, 379; 8. Morgan Lucas, 378; 9. Bob Vandergriff, 327; 10. David Grubnic, 284.
Funny Car: 1. Cruz Pedregon, 547; 2. Matt Hagan, 534; 3. Johnny Gray, 474; 4. Ron Capps, 440; 5. Tim Wilkerson, 423; 6. Courtney Force, 421; 7. Jack Beckman, 372; 8. Robert Hight, 343; 9. Del Worsham, 342; 10. Alexis DeJoria, 326.
Pro Stock: 1. Mike Edwards, 656; 2. Jeg Coughlin, 530; 3. Allen Johnson, 501; 4. Erica Enders-Stevens, 482; 5. Jason Line, 472; 6. Shane Gray, 421; 7. Vincent Nobile, 393; 8. Greg Anderson, 380; 9. V. Gaines, 370; 10. Greg Stanfield, 322.
Pro Stock Motorcycle: 1. Hector Arana Jr, 375; 2. Scotty Pollacheck, 256; 3. John Hall, 187; 4. (tie) Hector Arana, 174; Eddie Krawiec, 174; 6. Steve Johnson, 159; 7. Andrew Hines, 144; 8. Michael Ray, 141; 9. Jim Underdahl, 136; 10. Matt Smith, 133.