Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

HPT Somehow Becomes One Fast Track to Success ; HPT: Track Yields 8 Runs under 4 Seconds

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

HPT Somehow Becomes One Fast Track to Success ; HPT: Track Yields 8 Runs under 4 Seconds

Article excerpt

Anyone still up for peddling Heartland Park Topeka has at least one selling point to list regarding the troubled race track.

Nice, smooth pavement.

Throughout the NHRA Kansas Nationals, the drag strip has been fast. Ultra fast.

After four Funny Car drivers ran sub-4 second elapsed times during the first two rounds, an additional three drivers cracked that mark during the qualifying session that got in before rain struck Saturday. No NHRA event in history has ever had so many drivers clock sub-4 second ETs in Funny Car.

"It's a fast race track and that's why they've got to keep it," said NHRA's winningest driver, John Force, who joined the sub-4 club and qualified fifth in Funny Car with a 3.990-second pass.

"This is ridiculous. Even in this economy. Even I survived the economy, and I took some major hits. We've got to fix this deal."

The neat aspect to the blazing track, which was also made possible by ideal weather, was that some teams without huge funding joined the sub-4 second assault.

One of those streamlined operations puts Chad Head in its Funny Car. His mark of 3.967, which he ran Friday, kept him in the top spot. Tim Wilkerson, who is also funded lighter than some, used a personal-best of 3.971 to qualify second.

"There were a lot of (times in the) 3s and I expected to see us get knocked off," Head said. "I was very shocked we didn't. They made great runs. We're not trying to go out there and lay down. We're trying to keep going."

Good thing. Everyone else was with track temperatures ranging from 75-80 degrees, a relatively cool surface that left Nitro racers eager to get down their 1,000-foot lanes.

Wilkerson, Force and Ron Capps were all drivers who snuck underneath 4 seconds on Saturday. Head, Cruz Pedregon, Jack Beckman and Alexis DeJoria all managed to do so Friday. Courtney Force backed up the national speed record she set Friday by going even faster (325.06 mph), yet sits 11th going into the elimination rounds.

Beckman also got under 4 seconds on another run Saturday, giving HPT eight passes with those times. …

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