NHRA - National Hot Rod Association


NHRA Mello Yello Series powers back to Topeka

17 May 2016

The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series returns to Kansas’ capital city in America’s heartland, May 20-22, for the 28th annual NHRA Kansas Nationals, the eighth event of the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season.

The best in Top Fuel, Funny Car, and Pro Stock will compete side by side for a chance to hold up Wallys at storied Heartland Park Topeka, which features one of the fastest dragstrips in the country. Richie Crampton (Top Fuel), Jack Beckman (Funny Car), and Erica Enders (Pro Stock) were last year’s winners. The race will be televised on FOX Sports 1, including live finals Sunday.

Heartland Park Topeka is the fabled site of many record-breaking performances throughout NHRA history, including the first four-second and 300-mph passes in Funny Car, by Chuck Etchells and Jim Epler, respectively, in 1993. At the 2014 Kansas Nationals, Brittany Force and her sister Courtney Force were the respective No. 1 qualifiers in Top Fuel and Funny Car, becoming the first sisters to share that stage at the same event. Courtney then won the event that year, claiming the milestone 100th professional victory by a female driver in NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series history. The 2015 Kansas Nationals made its mark in the history books with a parade of track records set in Top Fuel, Funny Car, and Pro Stock, and this year should be no different.

Last year’s race will be most remembered for providing a sneak preview of what ultimately became one of the most exciting Funny Car seasons in NHRA history. Fans at Heartland Park that weekend witnessed what was at the time a record 15 three-second runs in the Funny Car class. Race winner Beckman made five of those three-second runs, including a 3.984-second sprint in the final to defeat 16-time world champion John Force.

Funny Car teams took the momentum from that race weekend and finished the season with more amazing three-second performances. Beckman set the national elapsed time record four times en route to finishing second in the points standings to eventual champ Del Worsham.

Jack Beckman

The 2016 season is shaping up to be another record-breaking year for Funny Car. Beckman has already reset the elapsed time national record at the controls of his Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger R/T, at the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals in Florida with a 3.879-second performance, and has claimed four No. 1 qualifying positions.

John Force, a nine-time Topeka winner, is second in points with a runner-up finish in Phoenix and two semifinal appearances. Force hasn’t won a race at the Kansas Nationals since 2008 and is eager to get back to that winner’s circle.

Points leader Courtney Force, two-time world champ and recent Atlanta winner Matt Hagan, three-time Topeka winner Ron Capps, four-time Topeka champ Cruz Pedregon, Chad Head, Alexis DeJoria, and Tim Wilkerson will all be major contenders for a Topeka victory.

In Top Fuel, Crampton drove his Lucas Oil dragster to his second victory of the 2015 season to hold off three-time world champion Larry Dixon. It was Crampton’s fourth victory of 2015 and first in Topeka. Crampton is hoping to turn around a bit of a shaky start to the 2016 season, in which he has just one semifinal appearance.

Doug Kalitta

Doug Kalitta, who won the Kansas Nationals in 2006, is the points leader, just ahead of two-time defending world champion Antron Brown, who will be in the hunt for his first Kansas Nationals Wally after losing to Dixon in the second round in 2015.

Other top contenders for the victory include Circle K NHRA Winternationals winner Steve Torrence, Clay Millican, J.R. Todd, Terry McMillen, who is looking for his first Top Fuel victory after finishing as runner-up at the Gatornationals, and eight-time world champion Tony Schumacher.

In Pro Stock, Enders claimed her third victory of the 2015 season and 15th of her career by racing past Greg Anderson one year ago. The two-time defending world champ will be looking for her second win in Topeka, and after a rough start to the season, a victory at Heartland Park could be just what she needs to kick-start a third championship run.

Jason Line

Two-time world champion and points leader Jason Line and Ken Black Racing teammate Anderson have dominated the new era of Pro Stock, which includes fuel-injected engines, shorter wheelie bars, flat hoods, and a 10,500-rpm rev limiter. Line has appeared in the season’s first seven final rounds and earned four wins to Anderson's three.
Line and Anderson’s teammate, Bo Butner, made his first final-round appearance of the season and second of his career at the Las Vegas event. Butner is third in points behind Anderson and in pursuit of his first Pro Stock victory.
Others to watch in the 200-mph factory hot rod category are Texan Chris McGaha, the runner-up in Phoenix, 2014 top rookie Drew Skillman, 2012 world champ Allen Johnson, five-time world champion Jeg Coughlin Jr., Vincent Nobile, Shane Gray, and Gas Monkey Garage Chevy Camaro driver Alex Laughlin. 

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 how the highly skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.

As part of NHRA’s ongoing celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Funny Car class, one legendary Funny Car driver will be honored during the pre-race ceremony.

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.

The event also will feature thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series.

Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 4:30 and 7 p.m. Friday, May 20, and the final two rounds of qualifying Saturday, May 21, at 1:30 and 4 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. Sunday, May 22.

To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call 800-884-NHRA (6472) or log on to NHRA.com/tickets. Kids 12 and younger will be admitted free in general-admission areas with a paid adult.