Photos by Jeff Leonard

For many Midwesterners, their main activity over the Memorial Day weekend consisted of weather watching and storm dodging. It was no different for the racers and fans at Heartland Park Topeka, as storm clouds, rain and high winds swept through the Central Kansas area. At meet’s end, some changes had swept over the Professional points standings as well. The points lead changed in Top Fuel, while Nitro Funny Car and Pro Stock saw those at the top remain there, with a couple of new faces making an impact.


The Brandon Bernstein “era” may have already arrived. Derailed by last year’s crash at Englishtown, he now sits atop the POWERade Top Fuel points chase, a result of his win at Topeka. coming in to the event, Bernstein trailed Tony Schumacher by forty-three points, but Schumacher lost in round two to Scott Kalitta. With the door opened, the Bernstein train barged on through to the points lead. Of his win, Bernstein said, “The crew did a great job. It was nice and cool early on, and then it got hot later, which really says a lot about Tim Richards and his ability. He has a great tune-up for hot tracks and he’s just as good when it’s cold. It’s great to win races any time and I’m still just as excited about this as I was about the first. It’s an awesome feeling to go through the field and run like we did today.” No win is easy, especially in Top Fuel. But his Topeka win puts Bernstein into the early season favorite’s role to be the newest POWERade Top Fuel champ. Now if we can just get ESPN’s Marty Reid to stop calling him B-Squared, we’ll be all set.


Whit Bazemore is no stranger to the points leader position in Funny car. It’s just that he has never been there when the final bell rings. This might be the year that changes everything for Whit. His win was surprisingly straightforward, with Bazemore leading qualifying and pretty much sweeping aside his four opponents on race day. He put up bracket racer style consistency until the final round, where he fell off his earlier 4.70 second pace, but Final round foe Eric Medlin lost traction, and the race.

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