MORRISON, CO – July 17, 2017 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – Already on an impressive stretch in his 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season, Top Fuel points leader Steve Torrence believes he can continue that momentum at one of the most difficult tracks on the circuit to navigate, Bandimere Speedway.
It plays host to this weekend’s 38th annual Mopar Mile-High Nationals and racing at an altitude of more than 5,800 feet is never easy. But Torrence and his team have found something that works on the mountain in his 10,000-horsepower Capco Contractors dragster, qualifying No. 1 a year ago and winning the race in 2015. With that success in mind and posting five wins in the last eight races, Torrence has no plans of slowing down to kick off the NHRA’s famed Western Swing.
“Three or four years ago, (co-crew chief) Richard Hogan really hit the nail on the head there and we’ve been able to do that consistently,” Torrence said. “It gives you a big boost of confidence and we know what it takes to do well there. We just have to go do it. The biggest thing is I hope we maintain the consistency we’ve have this year, and maintain going rounds and doing well. It’s been a lot of hard work, but the guys have kept their focus and kept on target. At this point momentum is on our side, and we go into Denver having done well and run well there.”
Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel), John Force (Funny Car), Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the event that will be televised on FOX Sports 1 and FOX, including live final eliminations on FOX at 3 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, July 23. It is the 14th of 24 events during the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season and also the first of three races on the famed NHRA Western Swing.
Torrence hopes Bandimere Speedway provides the backdrop for another great performance in what has been an incredible run as of late. In the past nine races, Torrence is 28-4 and has back-to-back wins in Norwalk and Chicago. He has opened up a 100-plus points lead on Leah Pritchett, a three-time winner in 2017, and back-to-back world champ Antron Brown, but Torrence is locked in on not letting up. That means his sole focus is doing well in Denver.
“That’s the race you want to win and you can’t think about sweeping the swing if you don’t win in Denver,” said Torrence, who has 13 career wins. “These three-race swings, it’s mentally taxing. It’s relentless, but every one of my guys has stepped up and taken on any responsibility needed. Our mindset is not to be relaxed in any situation. It’s kind of like being in the ring boxing, keeping your head on a swivel. We’re on a mission and we’re not slacking up.”
The mission, of course, is Torrence’s first career Top Fuel world championship. The Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship is coming soon, but Torrence wants to continue to build on his success this year, knowing he will be challenged in a loaded Top Fuel field. But he remains impressed with what his team, led by co-crew chiefs Hogan and Bobby Lagana, has done.
“One of the biggest differences this season as opposed to any season is Richard is confident in himself,” Torrence said. “He’s my guy and he makes all the calls, and everyone has been making all the right decisions. Richard and Bobby both have a really good tuneup for Denver.”
Force’s seventh Funny Car win on the mountain tied him for most in NHRA history at the track. He’ll look to top points leader and defending world champ Ron Capps, who has six wins this year.
Johnson remained “King of the Mountain” in Pro Stock, winning for the seventh time at Bandimere. His mastery of the track has included 10 straight final rounds on the mountain.
Hines will try for a fifth Pro Stock Motorcycle win in Denver to reach the most in class history, but he’ll have to get past points leader LE Tonglet, who already has four victories in 2017.
The event also features thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series. After Nitro qualifying, fans can watch the spectacular Muy Caliente Racing jet dragsters sponsored by Lucas Oil, driven by the General Manager of Bandimere Speedway, “Sporty” Bandimere! Jet cars are thrust driven propelled by jet engines with exciting pre-run flame shows. As always, fans can 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 the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
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.
On the evening of Thursday, July 20, the official “starter” event of the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals will commence with the free admission Mopar Mile-High Block Party in downtown Golden, Colorado, from 6 – 10 p.m. MT. Mopar is partnering with Pennzoil to put on the 16th edition of the extravaganza featuring an autograph session with all top Mopar NHRA stars.
Live music, food and drink tents, merchandise, interactive displays including the new Dodge Challenger SRT Demon simulators and a car show featuring plenty of Mopar muscle are also on tap at the fan event. Popular Denver-area morning radio show host Willie B. from KBPI 106.7 FM will serve as the event emcee. For complete information on the Mopar Mile-High Block Party, visit www.milehighblockparty.com.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 5 and 7:30 p.m. on Friday, July 21, and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, July 22, at 4 and 6:30 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, July 23.
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. To honor the Salute to First Responders, military and first responders can save 20 percent on general admission tickets at the gate. For more information about the NHRA visit www.NHRA.com.
About National Hot Rod Association
Headquartered in Glendora, Calif., NHRA is the primary sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing in the United States. NHRA presents 24 national events featuring the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series. NHRA provides competition opportunities for drivers of all levels in the NHRA Summit Racing Series and the NHRA Drags: Street Legal Style presented by AAA. NHRA also offers NHRA Jr. Street program for teens and the Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League for youth ages 5 to 17. In addition, NHRA owns and operates five racing facilities: Atlanta Dragway in Georgia; Gainesville Raceway in Florida; National Trail Raceway in Ohio; Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis; and Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California. For more information, log on to NHRA.com, or visit the official NHRA pages on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
Source: National Hot Rod Association