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Welcome to Top Sports News

Camrie Caruso makes her mark as a rookie in NHRA Pro Stock class

Rick Peterson

 By RICK PETERSON

TopSports.news

Camrie Caruso grew up around drag racing, with her father, Marc, and grandfather, Papa Joe, both veteran racers.

But Caruso's family didn't pressure her into the sport. They didn't have to. 

"They never pushed it, it was always my choice,'' Caruso said.

CamrieCaruso2Camrie Caruso has turned in a solid rookie season in the Pro Stock Car division, ranking eighth in points entering this weekend's Menards NHRA Nationals. [Photo by Auto Imagery]

The 24-year-old Caruso competed in the Jr. Dragster, Super Comp, Top Alcohol Dragster and Mountain Motor Pro Stock ranks before making the jump to Pro Stock Car this season, becoming just the second woman to run a full season in the class.

"I've always wanted to do it, so it was always kind of the plan, in my head at least, to probably run either Pro Mod or Pro Stock,'' Caruso said in a phone interview. "I wasn't really too picky.''

CamrieCaruso4Two-time Pro Stock world champ Jim Yates (left) is serving as crew chief for Camrie Caruso, helping Caruso reach a final round and earn a No. 1 qualiier position in her rookie season. [Photo by Auto Imagery]

Two-time world Pro Stock champ Jim Yates joined the family-run team over the winter as crew chief and Caruso has made an immediate impact, racing to a final round and earning a No. 1 qualifier in her rookie season while ranking in the top 10 in the extremely-competitive Pro Stock division all season.

"I feel like it's gone good,'' said Caruso, eighth in points entering the Menards NHRA Nationals Friday through Sunday at Heartland Motorsports Park. "We started really, really awesome. The first five races, six races were great. We kind of hit a struggle in the Western Swing and then at Seattle we started to come back from that.

"So honestly I think the team's doing really great together. It is a whole new team, so it does take some time to get used to each other and the way each other works and everything else, so I think we're pretty good. I think we're going to stay here for quite a long time.''

CamrieCaruso3Pro Stock Rookie Camrie Caruso will make her racing debut at Heartland Motorsports Park this weekend in the Menards NHRA Nationals. [Photo by Auto Imagery]

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Versatile Hunter Browning set for final season with Ichabod football

Rick Peterson

 By RICK PETERSON

TopSports.news

Is Washburn University senior Hunter Browning a running back or a wide receiver? 

22Browning HunterHunter Browning

Well, that kind of depends on the year and what the Ichabods' needs are that particular season.

And it doesn't matter to the former Washburn Rural standout where he plays as long as he's playing.

"I just want to be on the field,'' said the 5-foot-11, 195-pounder. "It doesn't matter where it is. As long as I'm playing with my brothers, that's all I can ask for.''

After redshirting in 2017, Browning played running back for the Ichabods in 2018 before switching to receiver in 2019 and 2021.

Now Browning will be back at running back when Washburn opens the 2022 season on Sept. 1 at Yager Stadium against Lincoln.

HunterBrowningactionFormer Washburn Rural product Hunter Browning makes a diving reception for Washburn against Central Missouri. [Photo courtesy of Washburn Athletics]

Browning has been productive at both positions, recording 428 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 92 carries and catchint 34 passes for 393 yards and two TDs.

A year ago Browning played in all 12 games for the 9-3 Ichabods, with 21 receptions for 271 yards and a TD.

"I definitely like finding the holes and bursting through them at running back and I also like those 20-yard post routes,'' Browning said.  "They are two completely different positions, but I think being able to play both of them really gives me a more complete look at the defense.''

Now Browning is looking for another big year in his sixth and final season in the Ichabod program and said it was a no-brainer to take advantage of his last year of eligibility.

"It really feels like time's flown by so fast,'' Browning said. "I just love the togetherness of the guys, the teamwork. I feel like the coaches really make sure everybody's on the same page and really made it an easy decision to come back.''

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Race week! A look back at 15 of the top moments in Topeka drag racing history

Rick Peterson

 By RICK PETERSON

TopSports.news

Heartland Motorsports Park has been on the NHRA national drag racing schedule since the facility opened in 1989, hosting at least one national event every season except 2020 when Topeka's largest sporting event was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The facility that bills itself as the "House of Speed'' will be back in action Friday through Sunday when the stars of the Camping World Drag Racing Series return to Topeka for the 2022 Menards NHRA Nationals presented by PetArmor.

Gearing up for race week, here’s a look back at 15 of the great moments in Topeka drag racing history from the perspective of someone who's had the privilege of attending every national event since the track opened:

JohnForce2Drag racing legend John Force won the Funny Car title at Heartland Motorsports Park in 2021, his track-record 10th Topeka win. [File Photo by Rex Wolf/TSN]

1. John Force called his Funny Car win at Heartland in 2008 the biggest of his career. That’s saying a lot for a driver who has won 16 championships and an NHRA-record 155 national events as a driver and 21 world championships as an owner with John Force Racing.

What made the 2008 victory stand out was that it was Force’s first victory after a serious crash at Dallas in '07 that ended his season and put his career in jeopardy.

“Coming back from that wreck, that race was key,” Force told The Topeka Capital-Journal in an interview. “It showed that I could still drive, that I could still cut it.

"I knew even then my legs were still weak. I struggled just getting in and out of the car, but to get that win after a year of rehab was huge -- to be there and hear those fans scream the way they did.”

2. In 1990 the late Gary Ormsby put Topeka on the national racing map, becoming the first driver in NHRA history to break the 4.9-second and 295 mile-per-hour barriers in his Top Fuel dragster, clicking off a pass of 4.881 seconds at 296.06 mph.

Ormsby, who won the 1989 Top Fuel championship, died after a battle with cancer on Aug. 28, 1991. Ormsby ran his final race at HMP, defeating Lori Johns in a match race.

Ormsby will always be linked with Heartland Park, with the main entrance into the facility named Gary Ormsby Drive after his death.

3. The 1993 Sears Craftsman Nationals at HMP delivered a double dose of history in the Funny Car class when Chuck Etchells and Jim Epler both broke the four-second and 300-mph barriers.

Etchells became the first Funny Car racer to run in the fours with a 4.987 pass while Epler recorded the first 300-mph run with a 300.40 pass.

Courtney ForceFormer Funny Car star Courtney Force posted the 100th win by a woman in NHRA history at Heartland Motorsports Park in 2014. [Photo by NHRA]

4. Courtney Force topped Cruz Pedregon in the 2014 Funny Car final at HMP to post the 100th event win by a woman in NHRA history.

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