FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: NHRA Communications (818) 914-4761 RECORD PERFORMANCE HAS BECOME THE RULE AT HEARTLAND PARK TOPEKA TOPEKA, Kan. -- The Western Auto Parts America Nationals presented by Slick 50 has presented many ...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: NHRA Communications (818) 914-4761
RECORD PERFORMANCE HAS BECOME THE RULE AT HEARTLAND PARK TOPEKA
TOPEKA, Kan. -- The Western Auto Parts America Nationals presented by Slick 50 has presented many different looks to NHRA Winston Drag Racing series competitors since it began in 1993 at Heartland Park Topeka. The race has been contested primarily during the day, with one evening qualifying session. It's also taken place entirely at night, under the powerful Musco lighting system at the track. The race has been held in June and July, and this year it moves to May. Despite the different times and dates for this event, there has been one common thread throughout the years: pure performance. Five NHRA national records have fallen at this race in the last three years, including the elapsed-time and speed records in both Top Fuel and Funny Car in 1996. Expect that trend to continue at the fifth annual, $1,509,950 Western Auto Parts America Nationals presented by Slick 50, May 29-June 1 at Heartland Park Topeka. The race is the ninth event of the 22-event, $30-million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series in 1997. Last year, this event was a performance paradise for Top Fuel and Funny Car. In Top Fuel, the late Blaine Johnson set the NHRA Top Fuel elapsed-time national record of 4.592 seconds in the Travers Tool Dragster, and Scott Kalitta set the Top Fuel speed record of 315.67 mph in the American International Airways Dragster. Joe Amato became the first NHRA driver to cover the quarter-mile in less than 4.6 seconds with his blast of 4.595 in the Keystone Automotive Warehouse Dragster. Six-time NHRA Winston Funny Car champion John Force set an NHRA elapsed-time national record of 4.889 in his Castrol GTX entry, a mark that still stands. Cruz Pedregon set a Funny Car speed national record of 311.20 in the McDonald's Pontiac Firebird. Force also beat Pedregon in the final, 4.930 to 4.942, still the quickest Funny Car race in NHRA history. Last year's event took place entirely at night, a big performance bonus due to enhanced traction created by cool air and track temperatures. But record times and speeds can be produced at this race at any time in any weather. Consider the 1994 edition, for example. Tommy Johnson Jr. set a Top Fuel speed national record of 306.64 under a scorching sun during an afternoon session. Very few tracks on the NHRA circuit, if any, can hold horsepower better than Heartland Park Topeka. Drivers will need every bit of that horsepower to win this event. Big numbers have become necessary to win races at nearly every race this year, especially in Top Fuel and Pro Stock. The Top Fuel winner at four of the first six NHRA national events this season posted a time in the 4.6-second range during the final round. That happened at only one of the first six races last season. A similar performance leap has occurred in Pro Stock. The winner at five of the first six races this year has needed a six-second pass to win. No winner recorded a six- second run in the final at the first six races of 1996. *Schedule: Pro qualifying starts at 3 p.m. May 30 and continues at 7 p.m. that evening. Qualifying ends with sessions at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. May 31. Final eliminations start at 11 a.m. June 1. Federal-Mogul competition starts at 10 a.m. May 29. *Tickets: Tickets are available for the Western Auto Parts America Nationals presented by Slick 50. Call Heartland Park Topeka at (800) 43-RACES. Tickets also are available at Ticketmaster outlets throughout the Midwest. *On TV: The Nashville Network (TNN) will televise two and one-half hours of live, semifinal- and final-round competition from the Western Auto Parts America Nationals presented by Slick 50 at 3:30 p.m. (CDT) June 1. -30- 5/7/97-WA1-074
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