Story By: NHRA – TOPEKA, KS – After nearly a month off, the Pro Stock class returns to action this weekend at Heartland Motorsports Park, which marks the perfect location for standout Troy Coughlin Jr.
The rising star claimed the most recent Pro Stock victory last month in Denver and has plenty of Topeka momentum, too, claiming the victory last year at Heartland Motorsports Topeka in his JEGS.com Chevrolet Camaro.
That gives him plenty of confidence heading into this weekend’s Menards NHRA Nationals presented by PetArmor, which marks the final NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series national event at Heartland Motorsports Park. The July win in Denver gave also Coughlin his second victory this season, bumping him to third in points in the loaded Pro Stock category.
Just as exciting for Coughlin is the strides his Elite Motorsports team made during the downtime heading into Topeka, leaving him excited he can pick up where he left off, not only from Denver, but also from last year’s championship performance at Heartland Motorsports Park.
“Team Yellow is ready and we’re excited as always,” said Coughlin, who has four career Pro Stock wins. “A lot of hard work has been done during the time off and we’re ready to put it to use. We love the process and the journey. Hopefully, we can repeat what we did in Topeka last year and land this JEGS.com Camaro in the winner’s circle.”
Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Bob Tasca III (Funny Car) and Coughlin Jr. (Pro Stock) won the pivotal regular-season race in 2023, and this year’s event will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1 (FS1), including live eliminations coverage starting at 3 p.m. ET on Sunday, Aug. 13. It is the 10th event in the Pro Stock season and once again, Coughlin is surging at the right time.
Following his Gainesville victory to open the year, Coughlin advanced to the semifinals in June in Norwalk, picking up the win over points leader Dallas Glenn in the final round at Denver. He beat a loaded field that day – also knocking off Aaron Stanfield, Greg Anderson and defending world champ Erica Enders – summing up just how difficult it is to win in the category.
But it also makes the wins that much sweeter, especially when it’s a double-up weekend like it was in Denver. Coughlin won the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge last month in Denver and he’ll have a chance to win both this weekend in Topeka as well. He’ll take on Enders in a semifinal rematch on Saturday in the bonus race, while Glenn will race Camrie Caruso.
To win on Sunday, Coughlin will also have to deal with the likes of Matt Hartford, Kyle Koretsky and Deric Kramer, but the talent-filled category is one reason why Coughlin is so excited to perform this weekend in Topeka.
“The guys at Elite Motorsports are just giving me a really good car to drive,” Coughlin said. “It’s going straight, it’s making good power and things are just falling together. It’s just flying right now. Pro Stock is absolutely loaded with talent and that makes it exciting for the fans. It’s just a great class.”
In Top Fuel, Brown will look for his third career victory at Topeka, facing off against a talented field that includes points leader Justin Ashley, who has five wins this year, defending world champ Brittany Force, Steve Torrence, Austin Prock, Tony Schumacher, Clay Millican and Leah Pruett.
In the Funny Car ranks, John Force will look to add an 11th win in a loaded field that includes points leader Matt Hagan, defending back-to-back world champ Ron Capps, defending event winner Tasca, Cruz Pedregon, Sonoma winner J.R. Todd, Tim Wilkerson, Alexis DeJoria and Robert Hight.
The event also will feature thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, which includes some of the sport’s top drivers. After nitro qualifying on Friday and Saturday, fans can see an exciting jet car performance.
Race fans at Heartland Motorsports Park can enjoy the special pre-race ceremonies that introduce and celebrate each of the drivers racing for the prestigious Wally on Sunday and includes the fan favorite SealMaster Track Walk. The final can’t-miss experience of any NHRA event is the winner’s circle celebration on Sunday after racing concludes, where fans are invited to congratulate the Topeka event winners.
Fans are invited to the Nitro Alley Stage all weekend, which will help create a festive atmosphere leading into Nitro Alley. The Nitro Alley Stage will be the main entertainment hub in the pits when the Camping World Drag Racing Series competitors are not on the track, hosting Nitro School, meet and greets and much more. As always, fans get a pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. Fans can see their favorite teams in action and servicing their hot rods between rounds, get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers, and more. They can also visit NHRA’s Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create an exciting atmosphere that includes interactive displays, merchandise, food, and fun.
NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature one round at 7:15 p.m. CT on Friday, Aug. 11 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, Aug. 12 at 2:15 and 4:45 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. CT on Sunday, Aug. 13. Television coverage includes qualifying action on FS1 at 7:00 p.m. ET on Saturday, 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, and then eliminations at 3 p.m. ET Sunday.