MORRISON, CO – July 11, 2016 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – Scott Palmer would have rather been racing but there was a reason why the Top Fuel driver sat out three of the past four races leading up to the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series’ famed Western Swing.
The rigorous stretch of three consecutive race weekends once again starts with the 37th annual Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at scenic Bandimere Speedway, July 22-24 with historic live television coverage of Sunday’s finals on FOX, and Palmer wants to make sure everything is in line on his 10,000-horsepower Tommy Thompson Motorsports/Marck Industries dragster.
One of his major goals during the 2016 season is to do well on the Western Swing and that means starting off with a strong performance at Bandimere Speedway, where all the NHRA teams will try to tackle the unique racing environment which requires adapting their race tune-ups to an altitude of more than 5,800 feet.
“We want to go out there and try to win a few rounds on the Western Swing instead of just going out there,” said Palmer, who has one round win in eight appearances in 2016. “We’ve ran pretty well and had some good luck in Denver over the years. Racing in the mountains and on that track in those conditions, Denver can be a great equalizer.
“If you can go out there and make some consistent runs, you can have the opportunity to go some rounds. But more than anything we’re really trying to up our program and we want to be prepared and go out there and make some good runs.”
Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Jack Beckman (Funny Car), Larry Morgan (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are the defending winners of the 14th of 24 events in 2016. Sunday’s finals will be showcased live on the FOX national broadcast network, marking the first time in NHRA history that racing will air live on a national television network.
That means a great showcase for all NHRA competitors and Palmer is eager to put on a good show. The Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals was the last event Palmer raced at a season ago, choosing to make wholesale changes to his program following the race. The team, led by crew chief Ashley Fye, put in a tremendous amount of work in the off-season, working out of Frank Manzo’s shop in Indianapolis for a month and also getting help and advice from Torrence’s Top Fuel team.
“Hands down, the best thing we ever did was skipped a few races at the end of last year,” Palmer said. “We concentrated a lot on gathering up more equipment to run better. It was hard for me to do that because I want to race every weekend but we really wanted to up the program. It’s just been a huge change for our team and we worked on everything from our pit area to our performance. It’s worked out really well. It’s taken a lot of patience, but we’re close.”
Palmer has put together some of his best qualifying performances in his career thus far in 2016, qualifying 11th in Topeka with a career-best run of 3.872 seconds at 312.86 mph. The round win came in Houston and while Palmer knows he won’t be qualifying No. 1 for the time being, he has watched his team’s performance and consistency improve a great deal already in 2016.
“We want to go to Denver and this Western Swing and run respectable, and not go just to go,” Palmer said. “We can’t try to get in the low 3.70s yet, but I’m confident we can run in the 3.80s and do it consistently. If we do that it gives us a chance to win some rounds and that would be a great deal. But we are committed to being a better race team.”
Palmer will have to contend with a host of standout Top Fuel drivers in Denver, including defending event champion Torrence, whom Palmer has been pitted beside this year. That’s been helpful for a variety of reasons and Torrence has already had a strong 2016, winning two events.
Palmer will also have to deal with the likes of red-hot Mac Tools dragster pilot Doug Kalitta, who has three wins this season, J.R. Todd, Shawn Langdon, who has won back-to-back events, two-time 2016 winner Brittany Force, Aussie Richie Crampton, Terry McMillen, reigning world champion and three-time season winner and current points leader Antron Brown, eight-time world champion Tony Schumacher and Clay Millican. But Palmer has always enjoyed racing at Bandimere Speedway, even with the added altitude challenges.
“The Bandimere family is a great family and we love going there,” Palmer said. “They are our friends and Denver is a really important race to us because of that. It’s such a cool place and a cool setting, and it’s great to be able to race at a track like that. Like I said, the altitude can be a great equalizer, so hopefully we can have some success there.”
In Funny Car, Beckman claimed his third Denver victory last year by outlasting John Force in the final round and brings some momentum into the event this year after winning the recent Chicago event. Force and his John Force Racing team have combined for 11 victories at the picturesque dragstrip. Including six by Force. But points leader Ron Caps is red-hot with three wins in the last five races and a runner-up finish in Chicago. A host of other top competitors include Robert Hight, a three-time Denver winner, Courtney Force, two-time world champ Matt Hagan, Alexis DeJoria, Tim Wilkerson, a two-time winner this year, Tommy Johnson Jr. and reigning world champ Del Worsham.
The Pro Stock race at Bandimere Speedway in 2015 featured a major upset as Morgan sprinted past then back-to-back-to-back Mopar Mile-High winner Allen Johnson in the final round. Johnson is a six-time Mopar Mile-High Nationals winner and hopes to make his 10th straight final round appearance this year in a redesigned Pro Stock class, which features fuel-injected engines, flat hoods, 10,500 RPM rev-limiters and shortened wheelie-bars. But the new era of Pro Stock has so far been dominated by Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro teammates Jason Line and Greg Anderson. Line has won seven races and is the points leader while Anderson, the only Pro Stock driver to sweep the Western Swing in NHRA history, has won six events, including the most recent event, in Chicago. Drivers like Chicago runner-up Bo Butner, two-time and defending world champ Erica Enders, Drew Skillman, Chicago No. 1 qualifier Shane Gray, Chris McGaha, two-time Denver winner Jeg Coughlin and Vincent Nobile are all after their first win of the year.
Pro Stock Motorcycle will hit the track at Bandimere Speedway for its seventh race of 2016. Last year, Eddie Krawiec raced to his first victory of the season, and the standout already has three wins and the points lead in 2016. The talent-rich field also features standouts like reigning world champ and four-time Denver winner Andrew Hines, Jerry Savoie, three-time world champ Angelle Sampey, who won her first race since 2007 recently in Englishtown, N.J., Hector Arana Jr., Scotty Pollacheck, LE Tonglet, Karen Stoffer, Matt Smith, Steve Johnson, Hector Arana and Chip Ellis.
The Mopar Mile-High Nationals will also feature thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, where the future stars of the sport earn their racing stripes.
As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity in motorsports gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand how the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
As part of NHRA’s ongoing celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Funny Car class, one legendary Funny Car driver will be honored during pre-race ceremonies.
Fans also will want to visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 5 and 7:30 p.m. on Friday, July 22, and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, July 23, at 4 and 6:30 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, July 24.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call 800-664-UWIN (8946) or 303-697-6001. Tickets also are available online at www.bandimere.com. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. For more information about the NHRA visit www.NHRA.com.
MOPAR MILE-HIGH NHRA NATIONALS FACT SHEET
WHAT: 37th annual Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals, the 14th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Drivers in four categories – Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle – earn points leading to 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championships. The NHRA Lucas Oil Series also will be featured at this event.
WHERE: Bandimere Speedway, Morrison, Colo. The track is 10 miles west of Denver, just north of the historic town of Morrison. From Denver, take Interstate 70 west to C-470 and travel south to the Morrison Road exit. Take Morrison Road west to Rooney Road and go north to the track.
COURSE: Championship drag strip; Track elevation is 5,860 feet above sea level; Track direction is south to north.
WHEN: Friday through Sunday, July 22-24
FRIDAY, July 22 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 5 and 7:30 p.m.
SATURDAY, July 23 – LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 4 and 6:30 p.m.
SUNDAY, July 24 – Pre-race ceremonies, 10 a.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES eliminations begin at 11 a.m.
Friday, July 22, FS1 will televise one hour of qualifying coverage at 8 p.m. (ET).
Saturday, July 23, FS1 will televise one hour of qualifying coverage at 11:30 p.m. (ET).
Sunday, July 24, FOX will televise three hours of live finals coverage at 3 p.m. (ET).
2015 EVENT WINNERS: Steve Torrence, Top Fuel; Jack Beckman, Funny Car; Larry Morgan, Pro Stock, Eddie Krawiec, Pro Stock Motorcycle.
MOST VICTORIES: Bob Glidden, 7, PS; Joe Amato, 6, TF; John Force, 6, FC; Allen Johnson, 6, PS; Warren Johnson, 5, PS; Matt Hines, 4, PSM
Top Fuel – 3.791 sec. by Larry Dixon, July ’15; 326.95 mph by Brittany Force, July ’15.
Funny Car – 4.015 sec. by John Force July ’15; 318.39 mph by Force, July ’14.
Pro Stock – 6.877 sec. by Allen Johnson, July ’15; 201.01 mph by Shane Gray, July ’15.
PS Motorcycle – 7.169 sec. by Eddie Krawiec, July ’15; 187.96 mph by Hector Arana Jr., July ’15.
Top Fuel – 3.676 sec. by Brittany Force, May ’16, Topeka, Kan.; 332.75 mph by Spencer Massey, Aug. ’15, Brainerd, Minn.
Funny Car – 3.862 sec. and 335.57 mph by Matt Hagan, May ’16, Topeka, Kan.
Pro Stock – 6.455 sec. by Jason Line, March ’15, Charlotte, N.C.; 215.55 mph by Erica Enders, May ‘14, Englishtown N.J.
PS Motorcycle – 6.728 sec. by Andrew Hines, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.; 199.88 mph by Hector Arana Jr., March ’15, Charlotte, N.C.
TICKETS: For tickets, call (800) 664-UWIN (8946) or purchase online at www.bandimere.com.
NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS STANDINGS
GLENDORA, CA — Point standings (top 10) following the 13th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series –
1. Antron Brown, 1,056; 2. Doug Kalitta, 1,054; 3. Steve Torrence, 912; 4. Brittany Force, 896; 5. Tony Schumacher, 803; 6. Shawn Langdon, 746; 7. J.R. Todd, 725; 8. (tie) Richie Crampton, 603; Clay Millican, 603; 10. Leah Pritchett, 521.
1. Ron Capps, 1,068; 2. Jack Beckman, 942; 3. Courtney Force, 892; 4. Matt Hagan, 828; 5. Tommy Johnson Jr., 803; 6. Robert Hight, 799; 7. Del Worsham, 796; 8. Tim Wilkerson, 760; 9. John Force, 699; 10. Alexis DeJoria, 697.
1. Jason Line, 1,472; 2. Greg Anderson, 1,392; 3. Bo Butner, 898; 4. Allen Johnson, 773; 5. Drew Skillman, 717; 6. Vincent Nobile, 666; 7. Shane Gray, 619; 8. Chris McGaha, 610; 9. Jeg Coughlin, 580; 10. Alex Laughlin, 530.
Pro Stock Motorcycle: 1. Eddie Krawiec, 639; 2. Andrew Hines, 505; 3. Angelle Sampey, 471; 4. Jerry Savoie, 428; 5. Hector Arana, 344; 6. Chip Ellis, 333; 7. LE Tonglet, 289; 8. Steve Johnson, 258; 9. Matt Smith, 235; 10. Michael Ray, 228.