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Fan’s View: Who to Watch in the NHRA Midwest Nationals

Yahoo Contributor Network

After a one-year hiatus, the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series returns to Gateway Motorsports Park in St. Louis, Missouri for the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals, race #3 in the six-race Countdown to the Championship. The past three races - the U.S. Nationals in Indy, the O'Reilly Nationals at zMAX Dragway in Charlotte and the Fall Nationals at Texas Motorplex - have shaken up the standings in all four top NHRA divisions: Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle. Which drivers are leading the shake-up? Here are a few to watch this weekend.

Top Fuel - following Indy, Shawn Langdon entered the Countdown seventh; he's up to fourth after two races, three straight No. 1 qualifiers and his first career victory in Top Fuel. The first-year Al-Anabi Racing driver sits behind three of the heavy hitters in Top Fuel: Antron Brown and Spencer Massey, both tied at the top of the standings, and their Don Schumacher Racing teammate Tony Schumacher.

Funny Car - Ron Capps has padded his lead to 96 points over Mike Neff and 97 points over his DSR Funny Car teammate Jack Beckman, but the real mover in the category has been Tim Wilkerson. Going into Indy, Wilkerson was 12th in points, but jumped over Bob Tasca III and 2011 Funny Car champ Matt Hagan to make the cut. Following the first two races of the Countdown, Wilkerson has moved up to seventh in points, and the next stop is his "home" track - Wilkerson lives 90 miles north of St. Louis in Springfield, Illinois.

Pro Stock - two drivers to watch in Pro Stock are going in opposite directions after the first two races of the Countdown. Greg Anderson, who qualified third for the Countdown, is back to fifth after a first round exit at Charlotte and a second-round exit at Texas Motorplex. On the upswing is Vincent Nobile, who qualified fifth and now sits third following semi-final appearances at both Charlotte and Texas Motorplex.

Pro Stock Motorcycle - while the Vance & Hines Harley duo of Ed Krawiec and Andrew Hines still lead the standings, Michael Ray has jumped from eighth to fourth following his win at Texas Motorplex - the first non-Harley win of the 2012 season.

Source: NHRA Statistical Updates, NHRA Media

Paula is a long-time auto racing fan who also covers the NHRA for Examiner.com.

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