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2014 SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals: Who to watch

Allen Johnson won last year's K&N Horsepower Challenge
Allen Johnson won last year's K&N Horsepower Challenge
NHRA Media

The fourth race of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series 2014 schedule is the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, taking place Friday through Sunday, March 28th through 30th. Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel), Cruz Pedregon (Funny Car) and Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) went to the winner’s circle in 2013, and all three stars will return to defend their titles this weekend. The Pro Stock drivers will have another race on their hands this weekend, in the form of the K&N Horsepower Challenge.

Johnson is also the defending winner of the K&N Horsepower Challenge, and goes into the race-within-a-race as the top seed; he’ll face fan-vote winner Dave Connolly in the first round on Saturday. K&N Horsepower Challenge rounds on Saturday are scheduled for 1 p.m., 3:45 p.m. and 4:45 p.m. PT. Johnson, a two-time winner of the event, will make his 11th appearance in the event. Other former winners in the event include Vincent Nobile, Jeg Coughlin Jr. and Connolly.

Schumacher has yet to make it past the second round of competition, but goes into Las Vegas with three previous wins in the event on his resume. Young Brittany Force, in her second season in Top Fuel, has already posted her career-best pass and made her first final round – beating Schumacher on the way there. The 2013 Road to the Future Award winner sits sixth in points after the first three races of the season.

Pedregon has also had a rough season so far, failing to make it past the first round in all three races. Since late last season, everyone in Funny Car has been chasing John Force Racing – John Force, Robert Hight and Courtney Force. The family patriarch and his son-in-law rank one-two in points, while youngest daughter Courtney jumped up two spots after reaching the semis at Gainesville – her first round wins of the season. Hight may be the one to watch this weekend, as three of his four LVMS victories have come during the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals.

Pro qualifying for the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals gets underway Friday at 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. PT, continuing Saturday at 1:10 p.m. and 3:50 p.m. PT. Final eliminations begin Sunday at 11 a.m. PT. Keep up with the action at www.nhra.com.

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