NHRA to go ahead with Topeka race May 22-24, despite City Council vote against racetrack purchase


Despite the Topeka City Council voting Tuesday night against the controversial purchase of Heartland Park Topeka, the NHRA announced Wednesday that the NHRA Kansas Nationals will go on as scheduled, May 22-24.

The Council voted 6-4 against the resolution, which needed a six-vote majority for approval.

“I want a racetrack in Topeka,” council member Jonathan Schumm told the Topeka Capital-Journal. “I simply do not want a racetrack owned by (the city of) Topeka.”

Heartland Park has hosted the NHRA since 1988. The upcoming race, which does not have a title sponsor, will be the 27th year that the track has welcomed the NHRA national tour.

How the NHRA will still put on the race is somewhat vague, as the city’s contract with the sanctioning body expired Monday.

In addition, Topeka city manager Jim Colson told the Capital-Journal that NHRA officials plan to go ahead with the race, although those plans reportedly do not include Raymond Irwin, whose Jayhawk Racing LLC is the current owner of Heartland Park.

However, the track’s official web site, HPT.com, carried the NHRA’s statement that the race is still on.

Here is the official statement from NHRA that the race will go on as planned:

The decision last night by the Topeka City Council to vote against a resolution that would have allowed the city to proceed with the purchase of Heartland Park Topeka will not affect the upcoming 27th annual NHRA Kansas Nationals, May 22-24, 2015.

“NHRA is hosting the event as scheduled and is looking forward to providing motorsports fans in the area with another thrilling NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event at Heartland Park Topeka on Memorial Day weekend.

“NHRA already has operational team members on the ground at the facility making preparations for the race weekend and the advertising and promotional campaign is also underway.

“It is NHRA’s desire to keep Heartland Park Topeka as an NHRA Member Track to host sportsman events and continue to include the track on the NHRA Mello Yello Series racing schedule into the future and NHRA looks forward to working with a new ownership group to make that happen.”

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Santino Ferrucci will drive No. 14 for AJ Foyt Racing full time in 2023 IndyCar season

Santino Ferrucci AJ Foyt
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Santino Ferrucci will return to full-time racing in the NTT IndyCar Series next season, joining AJ Foyt Racing.

Ferrucci had made eight IndyCar starts with three teams since his last full-time season in 2020 while also racing part time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this year.

He will drive the storied No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet for four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt’s team, which will field the car from its Waller, Texas headquarters.

“It’s incredibly exciting to be back in the INDYCAR Series full time,” Ferrucci said in a team release. “Being a part-time driver over the last two years has been hard for me, personally. I’m a race car driver, and I want to compete. Working with different teams has been exciting, and I’m proud that no matter which car I’ve raced, I’ve always shown speed and consistency. I couldn’t be more excited to join AJ Foyt Racing in the 14 Chevy. I can’t wait to make the best of it.”

Ferrucci, 24, had finished a career-best fourth in IndyCar four times, including the 104th Indy 500 in 2020. He was the 2019 Indy 500 rookie of the year with a sixth.

In nine Xfinity starts since 2021, Ferrucci has a career-best finish of 13th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“I am thrilled to welcome Santino to the team,” Larry Foyt said in a release. “He’s shown a knack for getting toward the front of the field, and I think he is a racer who moves forward on race day. A.J. sees the fire in him and has enjoyed their meetings together. I think Santino’s experience will help his rookie teammate as well, so he is a great addition to our roster.”

Ferrucci will be teamed at AJ Foyt Racing with Benjamin Pedersen, who finished fifth in the 2022 Indy Lights standings. The team has yet to specify the number for Pedersen’s entry, which will be fielded out of its Indianapolis race shop.

Foyt’s two full-time drivers last season were Dalton Kellett and Kyle Kirkwood, who is moving to Andretti Autosport.