Several interesting storylines should keep NHRA drag racing fans at full attention this weekend as the AAA Insurance Midwest Nationals make their annual stop at Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison.
The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series is in the Countdown to the Championship playoffs with drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Cars, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle looking to push their way to the top of the points standings.
Qualifying will be held Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, with the first round of eliminations for the Pro Mod Series set for 4 p.m. Saturday.
Pre-race ceremonies begin at 10 a.m. Sunday, with the Mello Yello Series eliminations kicking off at 11 a.m. Sunday.
The 2012 winners at Gateway were Antron Brown in Top Fuel, Jack Beckman in Funny Cars, Erica Enders-Stevens in Pro Stock and Eddie Krawiec in Pro Stock Motorcycles.
Seven-time Top Fuel world champion Tony Schumacher is hopeful of making a strong push in the final four races of 2013 with his U.S. Army dragster.
"Basically, we've got to be flawless and miraculous the rest of the year," Schumacher said. "But it's been done so many times and we're so used to that, we've just got to make sure we go into those last four with the right car, and it's not quite there, yet. But we're closer than we were before."
Schumacher enjoys Gateway, a drag strip that has seen him win in 2006 and 2010.
We'll get this right and we'll go fast," Schumacher said. "It's the end of the year and it's when we have to go rounds. Our Army team has always been known as the team that likes to pull it out at the end, and that's the time of year when it matters the most."
Doug Kalitta and Shawn Langdon are tied atop the Top Fuel point standings with 2,251 points, just two points ahead of Spencer Massey.
Matt Hagan has a 51-point lead on Cruz Pedregon in Funny Cars and Jason Line holds a narrow eight-point cushion on second-place Jeg Coughlin in Pro Stock.
The Pro Stock Motorcycle leader is Hector Arana, Jr.
Along with the drag racing, fans have a chance to meet and interact with some of their favorite drivers during a free Fan Fest sponsored by the Mid-America Chevy Dealers 5-7 p.m. Thursday on Washington Avenue in downtown St. Louis.
This weekend also includes racing action with the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Seies and the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series.
For more information, visit www.gatewaymsp.com or www.NHRA.com.