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Denver Pre-Race Report

 

Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals

Event 14 of 24 (Denver)
Bandimere Speedway
Morrison, Colorado
July 20-22, 2018

Noteworthy:

  • Antron Brown returns as the defending Top Fuel event champion 
  • Leah Pritchett claimed the 2017 Top Fuel No. 1 qualifier when she powered to the quickest pass in Bandimere Speedway history (3.733-seconds)
  • Pritchett (Top Fuel) and Tommy Johnson Jr. (Funny Car) return as the 2017 event runners-up
  • Matt Hagan seeks his third consecutive 2018 Funny Car victory (wins at Norwalk, Epping)
  • Both Brown (2009) and Tony Schumacher (2008) have ‘swept The Swing’ (winning the Denver, Sonoma, and Seattle trio of races)
  • Brown has been to the final round at Denver the past two years, winning in 2017 and recording a runner-up finish in 2016

DSR-Owned Track Records:
Top Fuel, E.T.: 3.733-seconds, Leah Pritchett (2017)


DSR Driver Information:
 
Top Fuel:

ANTRON BROWN
Driver of the Matco Tools Top Fuel Dragster

NHRA Denver Event Highlights: 
  • Three-time event champion (2009, 2012, 2017) 
  • Five-time runner-up
    • 2008, 2016  
    • 1999, 2001, 2005 (Pro Stock Motorcycle) 
  • Three-time No. 1 qualifier
    • 2009, 2010 
    • 2001 (PSM) 
2017 Denver Recap:
Qualified seventh; Event champion (defeated Scott Palmer in E1, Doug Kalitta in E2, Brittany Force in E3, Leah Pritchett in E4)
 
Last event (Epping):
Qualified 12th; Event runner-up (defeated Clay Millican in E1, Brittany Force in E2, Leah Pritchett in E3; defeated by Steve Torrence in E4)

2018 Season Statistics:
13 round wins; ranked sixth in points
 
Career Statistics:
395 races; 65 wins (16 Pro Stock Motorcycle); 49 No. 1 qualifiers (11 PSM)
 
Notable:
  • ‘Swept The Swing’ (winning the Denver, Sonoma, and Seattle trio of races) in 2009
  • Has been to the final round at Denver the past two years, winning in 2017 and recording a runner-up finish in 2016

Quotable:
"Denver is different than any other place we race. You're a mile high, so the air is thin and there's not much oxygen. The temperatures will go up during the day and that makes some difficult conditions for the race cars to make good power and run hard there.  It's the same thing for all the crew members on the human body. When you go there, it's definitely a test of conditioning and going out there and making it happen. The trick in going to Denver is that you have to be mentally strong, emotionally tough and use all of your physical strength to make it happen when you don't think you have anything left in the tank.  We've had success there, though. We were the last ones to sweep the Western Swing in 2009 and came close last year after winning in Denver and Seattle."


 
LEAH PRITCHETT
Driver of the Mopar Dodge Top Fuel Dragster 
News on special graphics for Pritchett’s dragster to be announced July 19 by Dodge//SRT
NHRA Denver Event Highlights:
  • 2017 runner-up 
  • 2017 No. 1 Qualifier 

2017 Denver Recap:
Qualified No. 1; Event runner-up (defeated Troy Coughlin Jr. in E2, Clay Millican in E2, Tony Schumacher in E3; defeated by Antron Brown in E4)
 
Last event (Epping):
Qualified No. 1; Semifinal finish (defeated Audrey Worm in E1, Doug Kalitta in E2; defeated by Antron Brown in E3)

2018 Season Statistics:
18 round wins; ranked fourth in points
 
Career Statistics:
107 races; six wins; nine No. 1 qualifiers

Quotable:
“From the challenges the mountain brings for making power, to being the Top Fuel representation for both presenting sponsors of the event, this race is the epitome of 'going big' in every way. This Mopar team has been steadily managing and elevating our power level with successful results. That, coupled with the additional preparation for this race the team has put in, along with a strong baseline of performance with our track-record qualifying run last year and our ability to go rounds on Sundays brings a heightened level of excitement and confidence. I always say, if there’s one race for a fan to attend on a bucket list, this is it, Mopar always brings the best fan experience starting with the Thursday-night block party to the midways at the track, and these Mopar teams are ready to bring them the best racing."


 
TONY SCHUMACHER
Driver of the U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
NHRA Denver Event Highlights: 
  • Three-time event champion (2005, 2008, 2016) 
  • Six-time runner-up (1997, 2000, 2004, 2006, 2011, 2015) 
  • 2014 No. 1 Qualifier 
 
2017 Denver Recap:
Qualified fourth; Semifinal finish (defeated Steve Chrisman in E1, Terry Haddock in E2; defeated by Leah Pritchett in E3) 
 
Last event (Epping):
Qualified second; Semifinal finish (defeated Jim Maroney in E1, Richie Crampton in E2; defeated by Steve Torrence in E3)

2018 Season Statistics:
18 round wins; ranked second in points
 
Career Statistics:
493 races; 84 wins; 87 No. 1 qualifiers

Notable:
  • ‘Swept The Swing’ (winning the Denver, Sonoma, and Seattle trio of races) in 2008

Quotable:
“It was good to have a weekend off to recharge and get ourselves ready for the Western Swing. I love Denver. I love racing there, mostly because the Bandimere family is so gracious, and they’ve always done anything and everything any driver and team would ask of a track owner. We’ve had great success at that track and we’ve found ways to perform in very unique conditions for us. It’s also one of the most beautiful parts of the country, and there are great things we can find time to do outside of the race, itself, like fly fishing and enjoying God’s beauty. We’re looking to go out and finish out this season as best we can for the U.S. Army. It’s been a phenomenal, 18-year relationship and it’s been a once-in-a-lifetime learning experience. We enjoyed unprecedented success together through a great partnership. We made some amazing friends and I thank the Lord every day for the privilege of representing Army Soldiers all around the world – past, present and future. It would be most appropriate to finish the season with another championship. We’ll see what we can do to go out and make that happen.” 
 


Funny Car:
 
JACK BECKMAN
Driver of the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger R/T
NHRA Denver Event Highlights: 
  • Three-time event champion (2007, 2012, 2015) 
  • 2008 runner-up 
  • 2012 No. 1 qualifier 

2017 Denver Recap:
Qualified sixth; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Alexis DeJoria in E1; defeated by Robert Hight in E2)
 
Last event (Epping):
Qualified second; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Jeff Diehl in E1; defeated by Tim Wilkerson in E2)

2018 Season Statistics:
18 round wins; ranked third in points 
 
Career Statistics:
289 races; 27 wins; 24 No. 1 qualifiers

Quotable:
"I'm going to go out on a limb and call Denver 'the most unique race on the tour.' Some would argue that the four-wide races are, but we now have two of those. We only have one race in conditions over a mile above sea level, and it's an entirely different type of challenge. For a crew chief, just getting the car to idle, much less run properly, is challenging. The race track has cooling coils underneath it for the first 300-feet. No other facility on our tour has that. As a driver, you almost have to blank out the sound. The car sounds terrible relative to any sea-level race track. The parachutes don't work the same and just catching your breath once you get strapped in is sometimes quite a challenge. To me, it's also my favorite of all the races on the tour. I went to Bandimere Speedway for the first time when I was in the Air Force as an 18-year-old, back in 1984. 

"I love everything about the facility. I've won at Denver three times. I love the Bandimere family, I love their legacy. I love that the Mopar name has been attached to it for 30 years. I love the Mopar Block Party leading into the race, it's just unique, unique, unique. 

"We're also doing some incredible things with the Infinite Hero Foundation throughout the race weekend, so it's going to be a hectic but rewarding weekend."


 
RON CAPPS
Driver of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T
NHRA Epping Event Highlights: 
  • 2009 event champion  
  • Two-time runner-up (1998, 2007) 
  • 2009 No. 1 Qualifier 
 
2017 Denver Recap:
Qualified fifth; First round exit (defeated by Tommy Johnson Jr. in E1)
 
Last event (Epping):
Qualified fourth; Semifinal finish (defeated Courtney Force in E1, Robert Hight in E2; defeated by Matt Hagan in E3)

2018 Season Statistics:
17 round wins; ranked fourth in points
 
Career Statistics:
520 races; 59 wins (one Top Fuel); 21 No. 1 qualifiers
 
Quotable:
"Well it's that time of the year, it's the NHRA Western Swing and that only means one thing, it's time for the Dodge Mile-High Nationals. This is a race that is by far the most demanding NHRA race we have on the schedule, but also one of the most gratifying races to win on our circuit.

"This year's Dodge Mile-High Nationals is even more exciting because of the involvement with the Dodge and SRT programs, and the fact that I've been driving a Hemi and Dodge for 13 years, which is more than any other nitro driver on the grounds. It's been an unbelievable honor to represent our Dodge and Hemi fans and being able to win the Dodge Mile-High Nationals is a feather in the cap. It's also a great springboard for the West Coast Swing which is the beginning of the end of our 'regular' season. Before you know it, it'll be time for the Countdown to the Championship.

"(Crew chief) Rahn Tobler and our NAPA AUTO PARTS team has worked very hard with Dodge and Pennzoil to bring the best race car we can bring to the Dodge Mile-High Nationals. To have success in the conditions that we see at (the high) altitude in Denver, you need to have an old-school savvy crew chief. I brag about Rahn Tobler over and over again, but the NAPA Know How that he has both near sea-level conditions as well as mile-high conditions, means that we're always in the hunt for a win on any given NHRA weekend."

 
 
MATT HAGAN
Driver of the Mopar Dodge Charger Funny Car
News on Hagan’s Funny Car to be announced July 19 by Mopar and Dodge//SRT
NHRA Denver Event Highlights: 
  • 2011 runner-up 
  • 2010 No. 1 qualifier 
 
2017 Denver Recap:
Qualified 15th; Quarterfinal finish (defeated John Force in E1; defeated by Cruz Pedregon in E2)
 
Last event (Epping):
No. 1 qualifier; Event champion (defeated Terry Haddock in E1, Tommy Johnson Jr. in E2, Ron Capps in E3, Tim Wilkerson in E4)

2018 Season Statistics:
22 round wins; ranked second in points 
 
Career Statistics:
229 races; 29 wins; 33 No. 1 qualifiers
  
Notable:
  • Seeking his third consecutive 2018 Funny Car victory (wins at Norwalk, Epping) 
Quotable:
"The Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals is a huge race for us. It's been a Mopar race for 30 years and it's a big event. We have the Mopar Block Party in downtown Golden on Thursday night, we're unveiling the new Dodge Funny Car body, and on Wednesday we have a Mopar wholesale event at the track. I'm excited to spend some good, quality time with the people that make things happen for us. 

"We tested the new Dodge body in Norwalk and saw great results. We're excited to run it in competition for the first time this weekend.

"I went to the final round in Denver a few years ago and had the opportunity to win but ended up red-lighting against John Force. Hopefully, we can get it done this year and I can check Denver off my list. It's one of the few races left that I haven't been able to check off the list."


 
TOMMY JOHNSON JR.
Driver of the Make-A-Wish Foundation Dodge Charger R/T 
NHRA Denver Event Highlights:
  • Two-time runner-up (1991, 2017) 

2017 Denver Recap:
Qualified 12th; Event runner-up (defeated Ron Capps in E1, Jonnie Lindberg in E2, Jim Campbell in E3; defeated by Robert Hight in E4)
 
Last event (Epping):
Qualified eighth; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Cruz Pedregon in E1; defeated by Matt Hagan in E2)

2018 Season Statistics:
12 round wins; Ranked seventh in points
 
Career Statistics:
435 races; 17 wins (two Top Fuel); 15 No. 1 qualifiers (one Top Fuel)

Quotable:
"Looking forward to Denver after getting a runner-up there last year. I've come close, but I've never won Denver. I've been runner-up in every class I've ever raced at that track, so one of these days I'd like to get the win, especially at the Dodge/Mopar race. I'd like to put our Mopar-powered Dodge in the winner's circle and get that victory. Bandimere is a great track, it's a great event, great people that run it. I always love going to Denver, and eventually it's going to be a race I'm going to win."

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