Topeka: Summer Nationals pre-event notes and quotes

NHRA NOTES AND QUOTES: * John Force has won the O'Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals more than any other driver on the circuit has. He has four career wins at the event, followed by Cruz Pedregon, Mark Oswald, and Darrell Alderman, who have each won the...

* John Force has won the O'Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals more than any other driver on the circuit has. He has four career wins at the event, followed by Cruz Pedregon, Mark Oswald, and Darrell Alderman, who have each won the race three times. Force Racing has accounted for five of the last six Funny Car at Heartland Park with Force winning four times ('96-'97, '99-'00), while teammate Tony Pedregon scored the win last year. Ron Capps has the other victory (1998).

* Ron Krisher, who opened the season with four consecutive No. 1 qualifying positions, has now qualified for an impressive 55 consecutive Pro Stock events. The streak began at the 2000 NHRA season-opener at Pomona, Calif. Pro Stock may well be the most competitive racing series in the world, with between 34-37 cars typically trying for the 16 qualifying positions. Krisher was one of only four drivers to qualify for all 24 NHRA events in 2001 and he is the defending winner of the O'Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals.

Following the event at Englishtown, N.J., there are only three Pro Stock drivers who have qualified for every national event in 2002. Those include Krisher, Jim Yates and Warren Johnson.

* Worsham Racing will unveil their newly painted red and blue Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebirds driven by Del Worsham and Johnny Gray at the O'Reilly Summer Nationals.

The original plan was to have the vehicles completed by the Matco Tools SuperNationals at Englishtown, N.J., but the extra week was needed for the team to finalize the production of the new paint and graphic designs.

"We're working hard on getting the new cars ready," said Worsham. "I'm sure we'll be putting decals on them in Topeka, but we aim to have them ready in time and I am 100 percent confident they will look stunning. It's a whole new look, and it's a great design."

* Only three Top Fuel drivers have ever won the O'Reilly Summer Nationals more than once. With his victory last year, defending NHRA champion Kenny Bernstein ('97, '01) joined Cory McClenathan ('94, '98) and Scott Kalitta ('93, '95) as the only repeat Top Fuel winners of the event.

* Scotty Cannon faced big expectations when he made the move to the NHRA Funny Car category prior to the 1999 season. Although he has yet to score a national event victory, his chances seem to be improving based on the recent performance of his teammate Whit Bazemore. Cannon joined Schumacher Racing prior to the start of the 2002 season, and along with Bazemore, form one of the more formidable two-car teams on the circuit. Bazemore recently jumped into the top three in the standings after reeling off back-to-back wins for the first time in his career earlier this season. With similar tune-ups, Cannon hopes for some of that success.

"We've had the performance to win," said Cannon. "But we just haven't gotten the right break at the right time. Whit went through the same thing and then all of a sudden everything started to click and he won two straight races. That's encouraging for us because our combinations our similar and I truly feel we also have the talent to put a string of wins together.

"At times it's hard, but I've been doing this long enough to know that you can't force the issue. Our two-car team has it all - good crew chiefs, good ownership, good cars, good equipment and good sponsors. The breakthrough race will come and when it does, a few more wins will follow."

* Six-time NHRA Pro Stock champion Warren Johnson on racing three weeks in a row beginning with Englishtown, N.J., then to Topeka, Kan., and wrapping it up in Chicago:

"There's really not a lot of difference in preparation (for three consecutive races)," said Johnson, the winningest Pro Stock driver in NHRA history. "You probably have to have a little more of an arsenal of spare parts. The only down side of it is that we don't have time to come back to the shop. For the most part it doesn't really tax our resources any more. If I haven't gotten used to this after 25 years then I probably never will."


SCHEDULE: Pro qualifying is scheduled for 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. on May 24 and will continue at noon and 3 p.m. on May 25. Final eliminations begin at 10:30 a.m. on May 26.

TICKETS: Tickets are available for the 14th annual O'Reilly Summer NHRA Nationals presented by Castrol GTX. Call Heartland Park Topeka at (800) 43-RACES. Tickets are also available through Ticketmaster.

TELEVISION: ESPN2 will televise two hours of qualifying highlights at 5:30 p.m. (ET) on May 25. ESPN will televise three hours of eliminations coverage at 3 p.m. (ET) on May 26.

ON THE WEB: NHRA news, photos and driver information available at


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Series NHRA
Drivers Darrell Alderman , Warren Johnson , Tony Pedregon , Del Worsham , Whit Bazemore , Ron Capps , John Force , Ron Krisher , Scotty Cannon , Cruz Pedregon , Cory McClenathan , Scott Kalitta , Johnny Gray