MORRISON, CO – July 19, 2016 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – Matt Hagan isn’t the first standout driver to have his share of struggles at Bandimere Speedway, where the altitude and racing at an elevation of more than 5,800 feet can throw a monkey wrench into even the best laid plans.
But with one of Hagan’s main sponsors again the title name for this weekend’s 38th annual Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway, the two-time world champion would like nothing more than to claim his first win on the mountain.
It has eluded Hagan thus far in his 10,000-horsepower Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger R/T but the 20-time national event winner hopes a strong string of performances during the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season will yield positive results at the first race of the famed Western Swing.
“To win at a sponsor’s race, that’s huge and it goes a long way,” said Hagan, who has two wins in 2016 and is currently fourth in points. “I’m blessed to do this and have Mopar on board. They want to win no matter what race it is, but to do it here would be that much sweeter.
“You just never know (in Denver). It’s a combination you’re running only one time a year. I feel confident in our car running well, but you just never know. I think we’ll be fine but a lot of it just comes down to it being your day on Sunday.”
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 broadcast live on the FOX national broadcast network for the first time in NHRA history, giving Hagan even more incentive to perform at a high level at Bandimere Speedway.
The event also means a full slate of promotional activities, meaning Hagan must come prepared and stay that way throughout the weekend in the high altitude.
“It’s a huge race for me and the altitude can mess with you,” Hagan said. “The biggest thing for me is to stay hydrated. I’m doing a lot of things and you can forget to stay hydrated. You can easily lose your focus that way and that can really mess with you on Sunday.”
After early struggles that led to first-round losses in three of the first four races this season, Hagan and his team, led by crew chief Dickie Venables, have rounded into championship form. Hagan has picked up two wins and three final round appearances in this current nine-race stretch, falling just once in the opening round.
He was the No. 1 qualifier at the most recent race in Chicago with a blistering 3.882 at 331.12 mph, moving closer to a peak performance Hagan hopes is there during the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship. Only four events follow the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals before the six-race playoffs and Hagan likes the direction his team is headed.
“The car is coming around and responding a lot better,” Hagan said. “We’ve been steady in qualifying in the upper part of the field and that’s big. We definitely feel great going into the second half of the season. We’re starting to hit our stride and I’m excited to see what we can do.
“You want to roll into Indy with everything together and you have the next few races to do that. You’re not trying to change too much and you just want to hone things in. If we can run consistently, we’ve got a car that can win some races.”
Hagan hopes the next victory comes in Denver, but a host of stars await at Bandimere Speedway, including Don Schumacher Racing teammates Ron Capps, who has four wins and the points lead, defending event winner Beckman, who won in Chicago, and Tommy Johnson Jr. Other class standouts include six-time Denver winner John Force, Robert Hight, a three-time event winner, Courtney Force, Alexis DeJoria, reigning world champion Del Worsham and Tim Wilkerson, who has two wins in 2016.
But Hagan, who made his only final-round appearance in Denver in 2011, is as confident as he has ever been heading to Bandimere Speedway. He qualified sixth and won a round at the race a year ago before falling to Beckman, and Hagan believes his team can build off of that heading into this year’s Western Swing kickoff.
“It’s the same conditions for everybody, it’s just a matter of who is going to figure it out,” Hagan said. “Do we have a good baseline off what we ran last year? Absolutely, and I think we have a great gameplan going into this weekend. We just have to go in there and execute.”
In Top Fuel, Torrence raced past eight-time world champ Tony Schumacher in the Denver final round last year to claim his first win of the season. Torrence already has two wins in 2016 and will hope for a third to try and track down points leader and reigning world champion Antron Brown, who has three victories this season. Others to watch include J.R. Todd, Shawn Langdon, who won back-to-back events this season, two-time 2016 winner Brittany Force, Aussie Richie Crampton, Terry McMillen, Doug Kalitta, who has three victories this year, and Clay Millican.
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.
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.