The learning curve is made all the more difficult against a loaded Top Fuel field that boasts a plethora of championship contenders. Schumacher has ruled The Strip, piloting his U.S. Army dragster to seven career wins, but everyone is currently chasing Doug Kalitta and his Mac Tools dragster. The points leader qualified No. 1 at the first two events and then beat Brown en route to the victory at the most recent event in Gainesville.
After beating Force in the final at Phoenix, Brown is back in championship form, while Al-Anabi Racing’s Shawn Langdon is looking to defend his 2013 world title. Other contenders include Khalid alBalooshi, who won the tradition-rich Winternationals to start 2014, two-time Vegas winner Spencer Massey and rookie Richie Crampton.
Force, though, remains focused on what she needs to do to climb the Top Fuel ladder.
“Todd Smith and the rest of the team have been working really hard since Gainesville and have fixed the bugs that plagued our Castrol EDGE Dragster during qualifying,” Force said. “I’m pumped to be heading back (to Vegas) as I got my first round Top Fuel win against Kalitta here last year. I love the Vegas track as it’s beautiful and the Castrol EDGE team is ready to go some rounds.”
The legendary John Force, coming off his 16th world championship in Funny Car, is the current points leader in the class and has four wins in Vegas. His JFR racing teammate, Robert Hight, is once again a bona fide championship contender and is coming off a win in Gainesville. Hight also has four Vegas wins, including three at the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals.
Ron Capps has a Funny Car-best five wins at The Strip while Alexis DeJoria defeated Hight in Phoenix to earn her first career victory. Other marquee challengers include defending race winner Pedregon, who has three Vegas wins, Courtney Force, Jack Beckman, Del Worsham, Tommy Johnson Jr., Bob Tasca III and Tony Pedregon in what has developed into one of the most competitive Funny Car fields in history.
In Pro Stock, the reigning champion is Jeg Coughlin Jr., while his Mopar Dodge Dart teammate Allen Johnson is the defending winner and has posted back-to-back victories in 2014 to take over the points lead. Winternationals winner and one-time Las Vegas winner Jason Line and his Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro are after another early-season victory and his teammate, Jimmy Alund, who is filling in for Greg Anderson, is also expected to challenge for the win. Erica Enders-Stevens, V Gaines, Shane Gray, Vincent Nobile and Dave Connolly always provide tough competition in the ultra-competitive factory hot rod category.
The SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals is always a big weekend for Pro Stock drivers as the lucrative K&N Horsepower Challenge will showcase the 200 mph factory hot rod category. Eight Pro Stock drivers will duke it out for bragging rights and a hefty $50,000 paycheck on Saturday of race weekend. Allen Johnson is a two-time and defending K&N Horsepower Challenge winner.