NHRA Kansas Nationals Friday photo gallery
Friday, May 23, 2014

News and views from the NHRA Kansas Nationals Last update: 9 p.m.
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Fans at the eighth stop on NHRA’s 24-race tour were greeted by the giant Heartland Park Topeka sign, nestled in a rather picturesque setting.

Sportsman racers have shown up in droves to compete for a coveted Wally at the 2014 NHRA Kansas Nationals, including cars from several different decades, makes, and models.

Jeg Coughlin Jr., winner in Atlanta last weekend and the defending race champion here in Topeka, sits No. 3 after one session of Pro Stock qualifying. The JEGS Mail Order Dodge Dart covered the Heartland Park Topeka track in 6.618 seconds.

Of the three Pro Stock cars entered under the Gray Motorsports umbrella, it was the “third” car on the team, driven by rookie Jonathan Gray, that looked the best early. With a 6.630 second lap in the first (and only) session Friday, he sits No. 5 in the field, slightly ahead of No. 6 Dave Connolly and No. 8 Shane Gray.

Vincent Nobile wasn’t worried about his team showing up late to the track today after their Mountain View Tire Racing hauler broke down in Atlanta. With only a few hours to prepare for Q1, they made the right call, putting up a 6.601-second pass and holding down the provisional No. 1 on Friday.

Tony Pedregon eschewed the standard pre-run warm-up and made his second-quickest run of the year, at 4.101 seconds, in his special-edition Herzog Toyota Camry.

Alexis DeJoria prevented the John Force Racing Funny Cars from occupying the top-three qualifying spots by posting a 4.082 for the No. 3 spot in the Patron Café XO Toyota Camry.

Sixteen-time Funny Car champion John Force flexed his muscles with a whopping 4.021 at 318.84 mph in the Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang to take the provisional No. 1 spot.

Terry McMillen opened qualifying with a 3.865 without the presence of crew chief Richard Hartman, who set up the Amalie Motor Oil dragster before leaving to attend his daughter’s graduation. Assistant crew chief Ray Murphy and veteran tuner Lance Larsen stepped in to call the shots.

Steve Torrence kept his consistent qualifying performance up with a 3.778 at 325.06 mph (top speed) in the Capco Contractors Top Fuel dragster for the No. 2 spot.

J.R. Todd laid down the run of the day in Connie Kalitta’s Optima Batteries dragster with a 3.747, 322.65 to hold the top spot in Top Fuel heading into Saturday qualifying.

With a great amount of attention justly being paid to female drivers in the NHRA Mello Yello ranks on the eve of the 100th win by a woman in a Professional category, Annie Whiteley shined bright in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series ranks with a 5.55 in her J&A Services Ford Mustang that places her atop the Top Alcohol Funny Car field.

Rain, rain, go away. Somebody forgot to tell Mother Nature that NHRA had its fill of rain last weekend in Atlanta. The second NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying session was canceled on account of rain. Qualifying will resume on Saturday.