MORRISON, CO – July 18, 2016 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – Steve Torrence already knows he has a winning recipe for the unique racing conditions of Bandimere Speedway. Doing it one more time at this weekend’s 38th annual Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals on the FOX national broadcast network would be another feather in Torrence’s cap in what is shaping up to be the best season of the Top Fuel standout’s career.
Racing at an elevation of more than 5,800 feet throws an incredible curveball directly at 10,000-horsepower Top Fuel dragsters, but Torrence and his team were dialed in on the unique combination a year ago and won for the first time at the scenic track.
This weekend’s race, which once again kicks off the famed Western Swing, will be broadcast live on FOX for the first time in NHRA history. It gives Torrence and his Capco Contractors dragster a chance to showcase what has already been a banner season in front of a huge television audience, and the two-time 2016 winner is excited for the opportunity.
“(Crew chief) Richard (Hogan) has just successfully developed a tune-up that still has a great deal of power in the conditions we’ll have,” said Torrence, who is third in points. “But it also doesn’t sacrifice the engine. We’re not just running it hard and tearing up the car. There are a couple things we’ve found that are conducive to racing up there that have been an advantage for us.
“I’m not bragging on ourselves, but we’ve had one of the best cars in Denver the last few years. As far as our gameplan, we’re going to continue to do what we’ve been doing. We have a good baseline (for Denver) and we’re not going to deviate from that.”
Jack Beckman (Funny Car), Larry Morgan (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are also the defending winners of the 14th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Races in Sonoma and Seattle follow the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals to finish off the Western Swing, but just as importantly, only four events will be contested after Denver before the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship begins.
Torrence appears to be headed to the six-race NHRA playoffs with as much momentum as he’s had in his standout career, advancing to three final rounds and earning six No. 1 qualifiers in 2016. His third career No. 1 qualifier came at Denver in 2013 and team has only honed in on their Bandimere Speedway combination since then. Torrence knocked off eight-time world champion Tony Schumacher in the final round a year ago and have since added famed tuner Alan Johnson to the mix as a consultant. That effect has already been evident in 2016 as Torrence gears up to go after his first career Top Fuel world championship.
“I think as far as me making strides, it’s the confidence this team has given me,” Torrence said. “I’m just confident in this car and this team does their job flawlessly. I cannot give them enough credit for giving me the confidence to drive this car. Everybody has been together a minimum of two years and that cohesiveness has been a huge part of it. Richard is more confident than ever and Alan is just the best in the business. To have him at your disposal for consulting or a question or advice, that’s a huge benefit.”
Torrence also believes he has a dragster that is only going to get better, but he knows it has to be if a Denver win or a world championship is in his future. He’ll have to thwart off a number of star competitors in the loaded Top Fuel class, including reigning world champion and points leader Antron Brown, who won the most recent race in Chicago, and Doug Kalitta, a three-time winner this year.
Both are ahead of Torrence, who has seven career victories, in the point standings, something he is going to work hard to change before the Countdown to the Championship.
“We’ve been digging deep and working as hard as we can,” Torrence said. “We’re in a fight for a championship and everything you do has to count moving forward. You can’t stand pat and sit idle to win a championship in this class. The parity is better than it has ever been. We’re trying to get up there and close that gap and maybe open up the gap with the people behind us. The higher you start in the Countdown, the easier you make it on yourself.”
As far as succeeding in Denver, Torrence is confident based on previous results. The challenges of the Western Swing are immense and teams are immediately immersed in them at Bandimere Speedway, but the rigorous schedule seems to bring out the best in Torrence.
“You change everything for this race,” Torrence said. “Basically what you do is run this tuneup, take it out and don’t run it again until next year. But when you feel confident with what you’ve got, it’s a good feeling.
“It’s a lot of racing in a short time. When you get into that zone and mode, you can get worn out and lose focus. But it always keeps you in your routine. It’s a double-edged sword. But I like it that way. It keeps me sharp.”
In Funny Car, Beckman claimed his third Denver victory last year by outlasting John Force in the final round and earned his first win of 2016 in Chicago. Force and his John Force Racing team have combined for 11 victories at the picturesque dragstrip, including six by Force. But points leader Ron Capps is red-hot with four wins this year. 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 winner and will hope to make his 10th straight final round appearance this year. But the new era of Pro Stock has so far been dominated by Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro teammates Jason Line and Greg Anderson. Points leader Line has won seven races while Anderson, the only Pro Stock driver to sweep the Swing, has won six events. Drivers like Bo Butner, two-time and defending world champ Erica Enders, Drew Skillman, Shane Gray and Vincent Nobile are all after their first win of the year.
Eddie Krawiec raced to his first victory of the season last year in Pro Stock Motorcycle, 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, who won the most recent event in Chicago, Jerry Savoie, 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 14.
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.