For the first time ever on the NHRA schedule, the J&A Service RPM Pro Mod series will be rolling in to Topeka this weekend as part of the NHRA national event show. So what will we see out of the pro mods since the blower o/d rule change, and will we see the Napa car continue dominance and will the Capco dragster rack up another victory?
Let's start off with the Pro Mods. This season has been one of record performance, near record performances, newcomers, and old guys learning new tricks. We have seen the national ET record fall, we have see a turbo car go 258 mph, we have seen Stevie Fast land a #1 qualifier and go to a final round, along with the old guard in Mike Castellana make a switch to blowers and show absolute dominance this season. Every race is difference though, and this weekend in Topeka will most likely be some of the coolest daytime temps they will see all season. Projected highs in the mid 70's at best.
The big story in pro mod though is the announcement last week that effective in Topeka, the blower cars will be limited to 16.5 o/d instead of 20 o/d. While I don't agree with rule changes mid season, and certainly not that close to a race, something had to be done. I personally don't think you will see a huge change in ET either. A lot of the teams that we talked to before last week stated that they weren't at 20% o/d anyways. This class is really a toss up this weekend. We had Ruben, Flash Fiscus, Dan Stevenson, and Eric Latino all withdraw for this race. The dark horse will be Brandon Pesz. He and Houston winner Steve Matusek have more laps in a pro mod during the late spring early summer Midwest conditions than anyone else running. Watch for those two, along with Steve Jackson to be front runners on the blower side this weekend. My pick on the turbo side of things would be Michael Biehle or Precision Turbo founder Harry Hruska. Both of these two are primed for a win. Harry has really got that program moving in the forward direction, and Michael, in my opinion has the ability to beat anyone on any given day. On the nitrous side, I look for Khalid Al Balooshi to have a break out performance this weekend. They are working hard and that man can drive anything with wheels.
Moving over to the Nitro ranks, and taking a look at Funny Car. Ron Capps has been the dominate force this season, and he, along with his Napa team roll into Topeka with an almost field gaping 94 point lead on second place Matt Hagan. Obviously Ron and the team are the ones to beat, but I don't think you can count out anyone entered this weekend. I tend to have an affinity for single car teams as well. The SnapOn Camry of Cruz Pedregon went through some testing last week, when Cruz's brother, two time Funny Car World Champion and Fox Broadcaster Tony Pedregon make some test hits in the car for Cruz. Tony showed that the car has the potential to be a front runner. If Aaron Brooks and Cruz can get it sorted and go A to B, I look for them to go some rounds this weekend.
In the Top Fuel ranks, Leah is holding on to the slimmest of leads over team mate Tony Schumacher. Only 14 points separate the two competitors. And with the wins that Steve Torrence has been racking up, he isn't far behind either. This might be the most difficult class to pick a front runner in. We all want to see Clay get his first NHRA national event win as well. You can't really call Clay the dark horse at this point though. If he stomps the loud pedal and it sticks, we could very well see he and his Parts Plus/Great Clips backed rail in the winners circle. Another person not to count out this weekend is Scott Palmer and his Cat Spot litter backed ride. Scott is from that part of the country and knows how to race for the conditions. We very well might see a first time winner this weekend in Top Fuel.
Then there was Pro Stock. The class that most love to hate and would like it to go away. I do not fall into that category though. I think NHRA needs Pro Stock to survive and thrive. Unfortunately, this weekend will only showcase 13 of the baddest N/A doorslammers on the planet. And you want to talk about a points race, this is no longer the Greg and Jason show. We have 5 cars within 100 points of each other right now, with Greg heading up the field by just a single point of Bo Butner. Former two time champ Erica Enders has shown that the Elite power can and does compete with KB and Gray. While Bo might be the odds on favorite to take another Wally this weekend, I look for Elite power to be in the finals as well. Look for Jeg or Erica to be bringing the Wally back into the Elite camp.
So there ya have it. What I think you are going to see at the Topeka race this weekend. We at E3xtreme with be onsite covering the PDRA race from Darlington, but you can bet that NHRA All Access will be getting watched on our phones as well.