2019 NHRA MILE HIGH NATIONALS - EVENT COVERAGE
SUNDAY - JOHNSON JR., TORRENCE, ANDERSON AND HINES START WESTERN SWING WITH WINS AT DENVER
Tommy Johnson Jr.’s first final round in his NHRA professional career came at Bandimere Speedway in 1991, but it took until Sunday at the 40th annual Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals presented by Pennzoil for the Funny Car veteran to grab his first victory at the facility.
Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were also winners in their respective categories at the 14th of 24 races, and the first of three races on the famed Western Swing, during the 2019 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season.
Johnson raced to his second victory of 2019 and 19th in his career in the process, going 4.102-seconds at 308.50 mph in his Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat to beat Bob Tasca’s 4.158 at 302.14 in the final round. Johnson, who is second in points, had advanced to the finals in four different categories at Bandimere Speedway, including Funny Car and Top Fuel, but he came through on Sunday against Tasca. He reached the finals with wins against Jeff Diehl, Jack Beckman and Cruz Pedregon.
Tasca, who has reached the final round at three of the past four events, knocked off Jim Campbell, Ron Capps and No. 1 qualifier and points leader Robert Hight to earn his 15th career finals berth.
“We made a great run last night – my quickest and fastest ever on the mountain – and it gave the guys confidence,” Johnson said. “I knew going into today we had a good racecar and my guys did a great job. We’re a much better team now and we’ve grown so much as a team, so it’s good to get it done. It wasn’t easy, but we finally got a couple breaks and we finally got it done here. The race has a lot of prestige and it’s so much different than all the rest we run all year. You want to win the unique ones, and this is definitely the most unique of our whole tour.”
Torrence maintained his dominant pace in Top Fuel, picking up his eighth win in the past nine races after going 4.044 at 270.21 in the final round in his Capco Contractors dragster to beat Clay Millican’s 4.126 at 267.64. Torrence, the defending world champ and points leader, won for the second time in Denver and 35th time in his career, rolling to his ninth straight final round in the process. To get there, Torrence, who qualified No. 1 in Denver and has already clinched his spot in the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship, beat Richie Crampton and Brittany Force.
Millican knocked off Doug Kalitta, defending event champ Leah Pritchett and Jordan Vandergriff to advance to his fourth final this season and 19th in his career.
“I don’t believe I’ve realized what we’ve been able to accomplish over the last couple of years, and when you’re in these moments you need to relish them and enjoy them because they don’t last forever,” said Torrence, who tied Don Garlits on the NHRA’s all-time wins list. “We’ve been able to maintain that consistency and the team we’ve assembled, we’ve been able to have these guys together for six years continuously. They’ve made the right calls and decisions, and they’ve given the crew chief the right car time and time again.”
Pro Stock veteran Anderson won for the second straight year in Denver, picking up his first victory of the season and 92nd in his career after going 6.950 at 196.96 in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro to beat Matt Hartford’s 6.965 at 196.96. It marks Anderson’s first victory since this race a season ago and also fourth career win in Denver, as he picked up round wins against Fernando Cuadra, No. 1 qualifier Richard Freeman and Deric Kramer to reach the finals.
Hartford advanced to his fourth career final round and third this season with victories against Alex Laughlin, Val Smeland and Jeg Coughlin Jr.
“It’s been a year since I’ve been able to win a race, and the class is just tough,” Anderson said. “It says a lot about the class and what it’s about, so I’m proud. The race car was great, just like it was a year ago out here. Obviously, my Summit Chevy loves this racetrack and loves racing at a mile high. It feels wonderful to get the job done and everybody did a great job. They were flawless today.”
Points leader Hines continued to roll in Pro Stock Motorcycle, picking up his sixth win in eight races this year by going 7.174 at 186.67 in the final round on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson FXDR to beat teammate Eddie Krawiec’s 7.222 at 186.38. Hines, who extended his points lead, put together an impressive result in the debut race of the new FXDR, beating Cory Reed, Hector Arana and defending world champ Matt Smith en route to the win.
Krawiec reached the final round with victories against Karen Stoffer, Jerry Savoie and defending event winner Hector Arana Jr., but there seems to be no stopping Hines in 2019 after he earned his class-best fifth win in Denver and 54th career victory. Hines, the winningest driver in the class, also became the first rider in Pro Stock Motorcycle to reach 500 career round wins on Sunday.
“Rolling out this new FXDR, it’s been so much work these last few months,” Hines said. “Bringing that motorcycle here, we didn’t know what quite to expect, but we put them both in the final round. You’ve got to have the full preparation and make sure your mind is right coming to these national events. Everybody in the class can step up at any time, and it seems like my bike has been in the right place at the right time in the right round. We just ride the wave when we can.”
The Mello Yello Drag Racing Series continues July 26-28 with the NHRA Sonoma Nationals at Sonoma Raceway. It is the second race of the NHRA’s famed three-race Western Swing, and eliminations will be shown live on the FOX national broadcast network.
SATURDAY - TORRENCE, HIGHT, FREEMAN AND M. SMITH SECURE NO. 1 SPOTS AT DODGE MILE-HIGH NHRA NATIONALS
Steve Torrence continued his dominant pace on Saturday, powering to the No. 1 qualifying position in Top Fuel during the 40th annual Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals presented by Pennzoil at Bandimere Speedway.
Robert Hight (Funny Car), Richard Freeman (Pro Stock) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also qualified No. 1 in their respective categories at the 14th of 24 races during the 2019 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season.
Torrence, the defending world champ and current points leader in the class, went 3.738-seconds at 328.78 mph in his Capco Contractors dragster to claim the No. 1 qualifier for the third time this season and 22nd time in his career. After making the second-quickest run in track history on that run and setting the track speed record on Friday, Torrence will race for his eighth win in the past nine races on Sunday. Defending event winner Leah Pritchett qualified second with a 3.761 at 315.19 and Jordan Vandergriff was third following his 3.796 at 321.27.
“We ran well the last three sessions, so the confidence in the car was there for sure,” Torrence said. “I knew the numbers were out there and I’ve got a lot of faith in my team. We just need to go out here and do the best we can on the first race of the three-race Western Swing. To make full pulls consistently, it's been huge and it’s a big part of our success.”
Funny Car points leader Hight earned his seventh No. 1 qualifier of 2019 and 67th in his career after his pass of 3.976 at 326.16 during the final qualifying session in his Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro SS. Hight will try for his fifth career win at Bandimere Speedway as John Force Racing qualified No. 1 in Denver for the sixth straight year. Tommy Johnson Jr. will start eliminations in second after his 3.978 at 317.72, while Cruz Pedregon is third with a 4.002 at 317.42.
“We came in here testing some stuff and the two runs (on Friday) we were testing stuff didn’t go well,” Hight said. “You have to throw that out, and I’m glad NHRA and the fans stuck this out so we could make another run. You don’t want to into raceday not getting down the track, so that was big for us. We’ve had a lot of good luck up here.”
Pro Stock’s Freeman raced to his first career No. 1 qualifier in the class after going 6.948 at 197.33 in his Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro. Freeman, the Elite Motorsports team owner, became the 65th different driver to claim a No. 1 spot in the class and will face Joey Grose in the first round of eliminations. Jeg Coughlin Jr. was second with a 6.953 at 197.51 and Matt Hartford is third after running 6.954 at 196.93.
“It’s really neat,” Freeman said. “I’ve always got to stand behind the cars and enjoy that, but we’re super excited. It’s great. It’s exciting and I can’t say enough about our program and the guys we have back there, and the other drivers. It’s been awesome. I think we’re going to be good (on Sunday), so hopefully we come out of here with a win.”
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, defending world champion Smith went to the top spot with his run of 7.132 at 188.31 on his Denso/Stockseth/MSR EBR. It is the second No. 1 qualifier of 2019 for Smith and the 33rd in his career. Smith will face Jim Underdahl in the opening round of eliminations and is seeking his third Denver win. Jerry Savoie qualified second after going 7.197 at 183.84 and Angie Smith is third after a 7.203 at 185.18.
“I didn’t expect to run that fast,” Matt Smith said. “When I saw Angie go (7.20), I thought I could maybe go a .17 or .16. The track tightened up and, man, my combination just stuck. That’s the quickest and fastest I’ve ever been up here and I just can’t say enough about my team. We just have to take it one round at a time and let this bike do its work.”
Eliminations begin at 11 a.m. MT on Sunday at the Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals presented by Pennzoil, and coverage starts at 1 p.m. MT the FOX national broadcast network.
Sunday's first-round pairings for eliminations for the 40th annual Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals presented by Pennzoil at Bandimere Speedway, the 14th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Pairings based on results in qualifying, which ended Saturday. DNQs listed below pairings.
Top Fuel -- 1. Steve Torrence, 3.738 seconds, 328.78 mph vs. Bye; 2. Leah Pritchett, 3.761, 315.19 vs. 15. Terry Totten, 10.525, 69.65; 3. Jordan Vandergriff, 3.796, 321.27 vs. 14. Terry McMillen, 6.685, 100.61; 4. Brittany Force, 3.831, 284.81 vs. 13. Mike Salinas, 5.736, 117.90; 5. Scott Palmer, 3.851, 314.68 vs. 12. Cameron Ferre, 4.785, 172.36; 6. Antron Brown, 3.854, 315.71 vs. 11. Greg Carrillo, 4.125, 214.86; 7. Clay Millican, 3.867, 267.96 vs. 10. Doug Kalitta, 3.968, 313.58; 8. Richie Crampton, 3.871, 305.49 vs. 9. Austin Prock, 3.884, 318.32.
Funny Car -- 1. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.976, 326.16 vs. Bye; 2. Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger, 3.978, 317.72 vs. 15. Jeff Diehl, Toyota Camry, 5.799, 125.72; 3. Cruz Pedregon, Charger, 4.002, 317.42 vs. 14. Terry Haddock, Ford Mustang, 4.544, 270.86; 4. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.005, 316.97 vs. 13. Todd Simpson, Charger, 4.520, 239.14; 5. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.008, 317.49 vs. 12. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.209, 294.50; 6. John Force, Camaro, 4.051, 305.70 vs. 11. J.R. Todd, Camry, 4.101, 271.13; 7. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.054, 283.07 vs. 10. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.099, 308.92; 8. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.077, 311.20 vs. 9. Shawn Langdon, Camry, 4.092, 306.19.
Pro Stock -- 1. Richard Freeman, Chevy Camaro, 6.948, 197.33 vs. 16. Joey Grose, Camaro, 7.103, 194.35; 2. Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.953, 197.51 vs. 15. Fernando Cuadra Jr., Camaro, 7.064, 194.72; 3. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.954, 196.93 vs. 14. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 7.047, 195.11; 4. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.954, 196.79 vs. 13. Bo Butner, Camaro, 7.015, 196.59; 5. Steve Matusek, Ford Mustang, 6.956, 197.65 vs. 12. Jason Line, Camaro, 7.004, 195.70; 6. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.971, 195.93 vs. 11. Val Smeland, Camaro, 6.992, 194.52; 7. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.972, 196.27 vs. 10. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.982, 195.79; 8. Fernando Cuadra, Camaro, 6.979, 195.73 vs. 9. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.980, 196.30.
Did Not Qualify: 17. Cristian Cuadra, 7.255, 188.75.
Pro Stock Motorcycle -- 1. Matt Smith, EBR, 7.132, 188.31 vs. 16. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 7.377, 178.35; 2. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 7.197, 183.84 vs. 15. Kelly Clontz, Suzuki, 7.339, 180.69; 3. Angie Smith, EBR, 7.203, 185.18 vs. 14. Joey Gladstone, EBR, 7.338, 182.60; 4. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 7.232, 186.20 vs. 13. Cory Reed, EBR, 7.328, 182.62; 5. Hector Arana, EBR, 7.232, 184.65 vs. 12. Eiji Kawakami, EBR, 7.322, 181.23; 6. Hector Arana Jr, EBR, 7.240, 183.47 vs. 11. Ryan Oehler, EBR, 7.273, 187.03; 7. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 7.249, 186.28 vs. 10. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 7.272, 183.12; 8. Angelle Sampey, Harley-Davidson, 7.268, 185.08 vs. 9. Scotty Pollacheck, EBR, 7.269, 184.12.
Did Not Qualify: 17. Michael Ray, 7.445, 180.72; 18. Jianna Salinas, 7.478, 179.16; 19. Andie Rawlings, 7.635, 172.70.
FRIDAY - PEDREGON, TORRENCE, ANDERSON AND HINES RACE TO PROVISIONAL NO. 1 SPOTS AT MILE-HIGH NATIONALS
Looking for his first No. 1 qualifier since 2015, Cruz Pedregon raced to the provisional top spot in Funny Car on Friday during the 40th annual Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals presented by Pennzoil at Bandimere Speedway.
Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are also provisional No. 1 qualifiers in their respective categories at the 14th of 24 races during the 2019 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season.
Pedregon, who has two career Denver wins, went 4.002-seconds at 317.42 mph in his Snap-on Tools Dodge Charger to start the NHRA’s famed three-race Western Swing on a strong note. If it holds, it would be Pedregon’s first No. 1 qualifier since 2015 and 62nd in his career. Ron Capps is second after going 4.005 at 316.97, while Bob Tasca III is a spot behind in third.
“We’ve had some ups and downs this year, but I think the needle is pointing up for us,” Pedregon said. “This Snap-on Tools Dodge Charger is starting to come around and I feel really good. This racetrack has been really good to me through the years. What’s really incredible is all the teams have figured out how to run well on the mountain, and that’s a credit to everyone.”
Defending Top Fuel world champion and current points leader Steve Torrence put up an impressive blast of 3.787 at a track-record speed of 330.31 to go to No. 1 in his Capco Contractors dragster. Torrence is seeking his eighth win in the past nine races. Defending race winner Leah Pritchett is currently second thanks to a pass of 3.839 at 321.35 and Antron Brown is third.
In Pro Stock, defending event winner Anderson raced to the top spot in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro with a run of 6.980 at 196.30. Deric Kramer is second at his home track with a 6.981 at 196.04 and Erica Enders is a spot back in third.
Pro Stock Motorcycle points leader Andrew Hines continued his hot streak after going a class-best 7.232 at 186.20 on a new Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson FXDR the team debuted on Friday. Hector Arana is right behind in second after his 7.232 at 184.65, and defending world champ Matt Smith is third.
Qualifying continues Saturday at the Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals presented by Pennzoil at 4:15 p.m. MT.
Friday's results after the first two of four rounds of qualifying for the 40th annual Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals presented by Pennzoil at Bandimere Speedway, 14th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Qualifying will continue Saturday for Sunday's final eliminations.
Top Fuel -- 1. Steve Torrence, 3.787 seconds, 330.31 mph; 2. Leah Pritchett, 3.839, 321.35; 3. Antron Brown, 3.863, 308.92; 4. Jordan Vandergriff, 3.864, 317.87; 5. Scott Palmer, 3.867, 315.27; 6. Richie Crampton, 3.871, 305.49; 7. Greg Carrillo, 4.704, 165.76; 8. Cameron Ferre, 4.785, 172.36; 9. Austin Prock, 4.793, 164.09; 10. Brittany Force, 5.405, 123.95; 11. Mike Salinas, 5.736, 117.90; 12. Terry McMillen, 6.887, 92.84; 13. Clay Millican, 7.471, 74.36; 14. Doug Kalitta, 7.803, 105.46; 15. Terry Totten, broke.
Funny Car -- 1. Cruz Pedregon, Dodge Charger, 4.002, 317.42; 2. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.005, 316.97; 3. Bob Tasca III, Ford Mustang, 4.008, 317.49; 4. John Force, Chevy Camaro, 4.051, 305.70; 5. J.R. Todd, Toyota Camry, 4.101, 271.13; 6. Robert Hight, Camaro, 4.145, 307.37; 7. Shawn Langdon, Camry, 4.291, 221.31; 8. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.324, 232.43; 9. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.348, 281.19; 10. Todd Simpson, Charger, 4.520, 239.14; 11. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.607, 183.89; 12. Jeff Diehl, Camry, 5.993, 119.76; 13. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 6.619, 97.96; 14. Jack Beckman, Charger, 7.299, 101.90.
Pro Stock -- 1. Greg Anderson, Chevy Camaro, 6.980, 196.30; 2. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.981, 196.04; 3. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.995, 196.47; 4. Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 7.001, 196.59; 5. Jason Line, Camaro, 7.004, 195.70; 6. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 7.007, 196.16; 7. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 7.011, 195.45; 8. Steve Matusek, Ford Mustang, 7.014, 195.82; 9. Bo Butner, Camaro, 7.015, 196.59; 10. Val Smeland, Camaro, 7.020, 193.05; 11. Richard Freeman, Camaro, 7.022, 195.31; 12. Fernando Cuadra, Camaro, 7.030, 195.85; 13. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 7.040, 195.28; 14. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 7.047, 195.11; 15. Fernando Cuadra Jr., Camaro, 7.064, 194.72; 16. Cristian Cuadra, Mustang, 7.293, 187.42.
Not Qualified: 17. Joey Grose, 11.958, 74.22.
Pro Stock Motorcycle -- 1. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 7.232, 186.20; 2. Hector Arana, EBR, 7.232, 184.65; 3. Hector Arana Jr, EBR, 7.240, 183.47; 4. Matt Smith, EBR, 7.247, 185.64; 5. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 7.265, 182.33; 6. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 7.283, 185.05; 7. Angelle Sampey, Harley-Davidson, 7.290, 184.62; 8. Angie Smith, EBR, 7.311, 183.97; 9. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 7.312, 182.62; 10. Scotty Pollacheck, EBR, 7.318, 182.23; 11. Cory Reed, EBR, 7.354, 181.52; 12. Eiji Kawakami, EBR, 7.421, 180.24; 13. Joey Gladstone, EBR, 7.425, 180.91; 14. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 7.464, 179.47; 15. Kelly Clontz, Suzuki, 7.499, 179.14; 16. Ryan Oehler, EBR, 7.608, 182.35.
Not Qualified: 17. Andie Rawlings, 7.833, 168.39; 18. Jianna Salinas, 8.748, 106.19; 19. Michael Ray, 12.002, 66.43.