Topeka The National Hot Rod Association's hype for this weekend's Sears Craftsman Nationals makes it sound a little like Disco Demolition Night.
The NHRA has good reason to think records will be shattered.
Four NHRA national records have been recorded at the event since 1993. And given the track record of Topeka's Heartland Park, the expected cool temperatures and the close season points races in two of the four professional classes, speed should be of the essence.
The Sears Craftsman Nationals will begin with sportsman classes today and will conclude with final eliminations on Sunday. The professional-class qualifying sessions will be held at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Friday and at noon and 4 p.m. Saturday. Final elims start at 11 a.m. Sunday.
The tightest pro-class race is in top fuel, where Scott Kalitta leads Cory McClenathan, 1,263 points to 1,197, after 16 of the series' 19 races.
McClenathan, of Irvine, Calif., could take the lead this weekend, and he's having trouble thinking of anything else.
"During the week, I find myself thinking about it all the time," McClenathan said. "Cleaning the pool, I'm sitting there doing it, and my girlfriend will look at me and say, 'What's wrong?' Well, I'm thinking about racing. You just can't get away from it."
Given his fall success, McClenathan is optimistic he'll catch Kalitta. Last season, McClenathan appeared in the final round of the final three series national events, and he won last year's Sears Craftsman Nationals.
"It just seems to run better when the car gets into weather like this," he said. "Every year it happens that way. I'm not sure why it does that. We have a lull at the exact same races during the year, too. I'm looking forward to these last few races, and Topeka mostly, because I always do well there."
In funny car, meanwhile, John Force, from Yorba Linda, Calif., does well just about everywhere. He enters this race firmly in first in the series points race, 1,442 points to 1,228 over Al Hofmann.
Force, who has more funny car victories than anyone in NHRA history, is nearing his record fifth series championship. He can clinch it this weekend.
"In history, it only shows that everyone has been replaced," he said. "So we're going to change history. ... You don't run out of challenges in life. Every year I keep saying, 'Well, I've won four championships. Now maybe I'm going to win five. What do I want to do? But that's the goal. And if you give up that goal, you've got no reason to be here."
Warren Johnson enters the Sears Craftsman Nationals with a commanding 1,403-1,208 lead over Jim Yates in pro stock. But John Myers leads pro stock bike by just 70 points -- 1,004-934 -- over Dave Schultz.