MORRISON, CO July 20, 2016 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – If there was ever a race for former Pro Stock world champion Allen Johnson to break out during the 2016 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season, it would most definitely be this weekend’s 37th annual Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway.
Johnson has dominated on the mountain over the years more than anyone in the NHRA, winning six times and advancing to nine straight final rounds. To make a 10th straight final and earn his fourth win in the last five years at Bandimere Speedway, Johnson will need his best showing of the season in a year that has been dominated by the Pro Stock tandem of Jason Line and Greg Anderson.
Their performance, which includes winning all 13 races, in the new era of Pro Stock looks similar to Johnson’s recent reign over the class in Denver, which the Greeneville, Tenn. native hopes can translate into his first victory of 2016.
“I think we’re getting closer every time we test and we have some hardware coming on board in Denver and hopefully that’ll pay dividends,” said Johnson, who is currently fourth in points in his Marathon Petroleum/J&J Racing Dodge Dart.
“I feel like our momentum starts here and hopefully we carry it into the Western Swing into the Countdown. I’m hoping we can do the same thing this year. Momentum is huge and not making any mistakes is what we’re aiming for. We have to make great runs and continue to be very consistent.”
Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Jack Beckman (Funny Car), Larry Morgan (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are the defending winners at Denver, the 14th of 24 Mello Yello Series events in 2016 and the first of three races in the famed Western Swing. Sunday’s finals will be broadcast live on the FOX national broadcast network for the first time in NHRA history and Johnson would love to return to the familiar winner’s circle in Denver after losing in a thriller to Morgan a year ago.
Johnson has become a master of conquering the elevation at Bandimere Speedway, driving at an elite level against a talented host of competitors. The redesigned Pro Stock class, which features fuel-injected engines, flat hoods, 10,500 RPM rev-limiters and shortened wheelie-bars, will have its first go on the mountain in 2016 and while confident, Johnson is eager to see how his new car reacts to racing at an elevation of more than 5,800 feet. Getting his first win of the season and continuing his Denver expertise would be added icing on the cake with the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship also closing in.
“It would be awesome,” said Johnson, who has 26 career Pro Stock victories. “I don’t think we’re going to have the magic at Denver like we have in the past based on the testing numbers but I do think EFI is going to make the class a lot closer. It would be very special to impress Marathon and we’re still affiliated with Mopar, so that’d be great to win there.”
Closing the gap on the points leader Line, who has seven victories, and Anderson, who has six wins including at the most recent in Chicago, has become the goal for Johnson since the outset of the season. He has certainly made progress, advancing to a final round in Epping and winning at least one round over the last eight races, but there are more improvements to be made.
With only four events following Denver before the Countdown to the Championship, Johnson still has hopes of moving into third in points, and a strong showing at one of his favorite tracks and races would be an ideal way to kick off the famed three-race Western Swing.
“I think we’re going to be closer in Denver than we have all season in mph and E.T.,” Johnson said. “Based on our test last week in Denver, I think carburetors were really hard to tune up there and the EFI is really easy to tune up there. I was really surprised how quick we went up there.”
That means competition will be tough at the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals and certainly starts with Line and Anderson. But Johnson is also wary of a number of Pro Stock standouts who have made big improvements in recent races, including Bo Butner, who is third in points, two-time and defending world champ Erica Enders, Jeg Coughlin, Drew Skillman, Shane Gray and Vincent Nobile.
Racing in Denver, though, remains a special deal for Johnson, who hopes to create one more magical moment on national broadcast television.
“You know, Denver has always been Mopar’s title event and Mopar was our sponsor for 10-plus years,” Johnson said. “We wanted to impress Mopar and give all the employees and executives at Mopar something to crow about.”
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 past Denver winner 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.
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.
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 5:15 and 8 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 5:15 and 8 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 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.