Brad Choat (Twitter: @choatsnews )

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – It’s the third race out of six in the NHRA playoff season and it’s this weekend in nearby Madison, Illinois.

The 6th annual AAA Insurance Midwest Nationals takes place at Gateway Motorsports Park.

Track owner Curtis Francois told a media preview on Thursday that he’s excited for possibility of a world speed record being set by funny cars at the track this weekend.

Francois also had a word for fans, “If you come out Friday night for the qualifying under the lights, you’ll see flames shooting out from exhaust pipes.”

Four NHRA drivers joined Francois at preview day. Defending Midwest Nationals funny car champion Jack Beckman said his great-grandfather was a police officer in St. Louis and his grandma was raised here before moving to California. Beckman is 5th in points. He said he doesn’t know if Gateway is a “must win,” but realizes time is running short to catch the leaders.

Pro stock motorcycle racer Eddie Krawiec is riding high since winning the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis. Krawiec said he considers Gateway to be an awesome track and he likes to run in cool weather like is forecast for the weekend.

Top fuel driver Clay Millican considers Gateway to be a home track. His shop is in the southern Illinois town of Mcleansboro. And, he’s a big fan of STL native rapper Nelly. Millican is 6th in points and calls his car, “unbelievably quick” right now. He said he knows he’ll be winning some of the remaining races in the playoffs.

Funny car driver Robert Hight is second in points and could be the main threat to set a speed record at Gateway. He’s hoping to reach 340 mph, having ran 339 twice in the past. Hight told media members if the conditions are right, “We may just skip over 340 and you could see 342 or 343.” He said his motto is to get three points out of each run.

Two qualifying sessions for the AAA Insurance Midwest Nationals are set for 4:30 pm and 7:00 pm on Friday, September 29. Two more sessions are planned for Saturday at 2 and 4:30 pm. Elimination rounds begin Sunday at 11 am.


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