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DSR Denver Pre-Race Report

Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals
Presented by Pennzoil

Event 14 of 24 (Denver)
Bandimere Speedway
Morrisson, Colo. 
July 19-21, 2019

Highlights:

  • Leah Pritchett returns as the defending Top Fuel event champion 
  • In 2018, Pritchett reset the Bandimere Speedway speed record (327.59 mph) en route to capturing her second consecutive Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals Presented by Pennzoil pole
  • Pritchett has been to the final round at Denver the past two years, winning in 2018 and recording a runner-up finish in 2017
  • Ron Capps raced to a runner-up finish at the 2018 event, the first of three consecutive final-round appearances on the Western Swing
  • Matt Hagan enters the race weekend as the most recent Funny Car winner on the NHRA tour after capturing the Epping Wally trophy
  • Antron Brown ‘swept The Swing’ (winning the Denver, Sonoma, and Seattle trio of races) in 2009
  • Pritchett got her very first Wally at the Denver track while competing in the NHRA Junior Dragster series
  • Tommy Johnson Jr. has been to the final round in four different categories at Bandimere (Funny Car, Top Fuel, Top Alcohol Funny Car, and Super Gas)
  • Johnson notched his career-first final round at the 1991 Denver event while competing in Top Fuel
DSR-Owned Track Records:
Top Fuel, E.T.: 3.733 seconds, Leah Pritchett (2017)
Top Fuel, speed: 327.59 mph, Leah Pritchett (2018)

DSR Driver Information:
 
Top Fuel:

ANTRON BROWN
Driver of the Matco Tools Top Fuel Dragster

Denver Event Highlights: 
  • Three-time event champion (2009, 2012, 2017) 
  • Five-time runner-up:
    • Top Fuel (2008, 2016) 
    • Pro Stock Motorcycle (1999, 2001, 2005) 
  • Three-time No. 1 qualifier:
    • Top Fuel (2009, 2010) 
    • Pro Stock Motorcycle (2001) 
2018 Denver Recap:
Qualified eighth; First round exit (defeated by Scott Palmer in E1)

Last Event (Epping):
Qualified fourth; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Cameron Ferre in E1; defeated by Scott Palmer in E2)

2019 Season Statistics:
16 round wins; Ranked third in points

Career Statistics:
419 races; 66 wins (16 Pro Stock Motorcycle); 49 No. 1 qualifiers (11 PSM)

Noteworthy:
  • ‘Swept The Swing’ (winning the Denver, Sonoma, and Seattle trio of races) in 2009

Quotable:
“Bandimere Speedway is always one of my favorite tracks to go to because of the challenges that come with racing at a mile-high. The oxygen levels are thin, and it’s a big feat for the crew chiefs to get the cars to make good power. It’s also a big challenge for the drivers to be able to stay focused because when you go up there, you push your endurance to higher levels. Racing at a mile-high is definitely a challenge, but it’s one that I know myself and our Matco Tools Toyota team looks forward to each year. We’ve won there before, and it’s kind of like you’re the ‘king of the mountain’ if it doesn’t beat you up. When you get the job done, it makes it that much more rewarding to hoist a Wally on top of the mountain.”


  
LEAH PRITCHETT
Driver of the MOPAR Dodge 1320 Top Fuel Dragster
Denver Event Highlights: 
  • 2018 event champion 
  • 2017 runner-up  
  • Two-time No. 1 qualifier (2017, 2018) 
2018 Denver Recap:
Qualified No. 1; Event champion (defeated Terry Totten in E1, Scott Palmer in E2, Clay Millican in E3, Doug Kalitta in E4)

Last Event (Norwalk):
Qualified second; Semifinal finish (defeated Luigi Novelli in E1, Antron Brown in E2; defeated by Pat Dakin in E3)

2019 Season Statistics:
11 round wins; Ranked seventh in points

Career Statistics:
130 races; seven wins; 11 No. 1 qualifiers 

Noteworthy:
  • Returns as the defending Top Fuel event champion 
  • In 2018, reset the Bandimere Speedway speed record (327.59 mph) en route to capturing her second consecutive Denver pole
  • Has been to the final round at Denver the past two years, winning in 2018 and recording a runner-up finish in 2017
  • Got her very first Wally at the Denver track while competing in the NHRA Junior Dragster series
Quotable:
“I don’t think there is another human that can parallel how I feel about getting back in the car at Denver right now, or getting the team back on the track. I’m beyond motivated. It doesn’t take missing a race, or Denver being the mother flagship event to get my motor running, but it most definitely has kicked it into overdrive. It will have been 25 days since being behind the wheel of a nitro car, or since my team has been in race pace, but I can promise, everyone is as prepared as ever to defend what I consider a U.S. Nationals-caliber event.
 
“The energy (at Denver) is off the charts. The incredible experience Dodge and MOPAR provide for the fans the entire week is unparalleled and undoubtedly contributes to the upbeat atmosphere. But, the fuel comes from the fans; they are the ones bringing the energy that will ultimately give our team that extra something special.”
  


Funny Car:

JACK BECKMAN
Driver of the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat

Denver Event Highlights:
  • Three-time event champion (2007, 2012, 2015) 
  • 2008 runner-up 
  • 2012 No. 1 qualifier 
2018 Denver Recap:
Qualified second; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Todd Simpson in E1; defeated by Ron Capps in E2)

Last Event (Epping):
Qualified 11th; First round exit (defeated by Matt Hagan in E1)

2019 Season Statistics:
20 round wins; ranked fifth in points 
 
Career Statistics:
313 races; 28 wins; 24 No. 1 qualifiers

Quotable:
“After an excellent four-race swing, we stumbled in Epping and had a first-round loss, however, the run we made would’ve won all but two of the races that first round. So, we still have a great car; we just didn’t qualify as well as we needed to. I’ve been saying this for six races now, but we have to get our first win of the year under our belt. It’s going to set the tone for our championship run and, the clock is ticking. We need to get it done in Denver, and I’m confident that we can.
 
“Denver requires completely unique tune-up parameters. The guys are going to have special racks of rods and pistons, different overdrive on the supercharger, smaller rear tires on the car. Literally, it’s a one-race-only deal. The crew chiefs hate going there, but the drivers love it, and I can’t wait to get back there. I’ve had great success in the past in Denver. It’s maybe my favorite track on the tour because it's so beautiful and so unique.”
 

 
RON CAPPS
Driver of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Denver Event Highlights: 
  • 2009 event champion and No. 1 qualifier 
  • Three-time runner-up (1998, 2007, 2018) 
2018 Denver Recap:
Qualified seventh; Event runner-up (defeated J.R. Todd in E1, Jack Beckman in E2, Robert Hight in E3; defeated by John Force in E4)

Last Event (Epping):
Qualified third; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Mike Smith in E1; defeated by Matt Hagan in E2)

2019 Season Statistics:
19 round wins; ranked fourth in points 

Career Statistics:
544 races; 63 wins (one Top Fuel); 23 No. 1 qualifiers

Noteworthy:
  • Raced to a runner-up finish at the 2018 event, the first of three consecutive final-round appearances on the Western Swing
Quotable:
“I love going to Denver. You’ll hear some teams that dread going to the Mile-High Nationals because of all the challenges it presents, but when you have a crew chief like Rahn Tobler and a team like we have, I always look forward to it. Last year we had a great race in Denver. We just came up a little bit short in the final round and lost to John Force on a holeshot, unfortunately, so we were close to winning there, and we’ve won there in the past. Tobler always seems to get a little excited about going up to Bandimere Speedway and showing off because it’s a one-off race; it’s the only time you run the combinations we run. Not to mention, we get to show off to all of our great engineers and everyone at MOPAR and Dodge. They provided us with the Dodge Hellcats this year, and it’s been such a fun car to drive and we want to show them how much we appreciate their support, and that we’re a championship-caliber team.
 
“The Denver race is a great atmosphere, it’s a great party, but there’s nothing better than holding that trophy up and showing everyone that you conquered the mountain. We’re looking forward to going one step further than we did last year.”

  
 
MATT HAGAN
Driver of the MOPAR Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat

News regarding special graphics for Hagan’s Funny Car to be announced July 18 by Dodge//SRT at the pre-event NHRA press conference
Denver Event Highlights:
  • 2011 event runner-up 
  • 2010 No. 1 qualifier 
2018 Denver Recap:
Qualified 12th; First round exit (defeated by John Force in E1)

Last Event (Epping):
Qualified sixth; Event champion (defeated Jack Beckman in E1, Ron Capps in E2, Bob Tasca III in E3, Shawn Langdon in E4)

2019 Season Statistics:
16 round wins; ranked seventh (tied) in points 

Career Statistics:
253 races; 31 wins; 34 No. 1 qualifiers

Noteworthy:
  • Enters the race weekend as the most recent Funny Car winner on the NHRA tour after capturing the Epping Wally trophy
Quotable:
“Going to Denver, it can humble you, so you have to have a pretty good gameplan. You go in there knowing anything can happen. It’s a huge race for us because it’s a Dodge/MOPAR race. We’ve had a runner-up there, but we never could seal the deal, so hopefully we can do that. It’s all about trying to win championships and trying to make that goal happen. I feel good about our chances. We’ve got a good car, my lights have been good, and confidence breeds confidence.
 
“Last year, I had the honor of debuting the MOPAR Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car body at Denver, and it’s cool to be able to follow that up this year by revealing another new look at the NHRA press conference on Thursday. I’ve raced in a Dodge Funny Car for my entire 10-year-plus career. It’s great having a sponsor like Dodge//SRT, a brand that is really committed to using NHRA to outreach to the performance enthusiasts who fuel our sport.”


 
TOMMY JOHNSON JR.
Driver of the Make-A-Wish Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat 
Denver Event Highlights:
  • Two-time runner-up (1991, 2017) 
2018 Denver Recap:
Qualified sixth; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Bob Tasca III in E1; defeated by Robert Hight in E2)

Last Event (Epping):
Qualified eighth; First round exit (defeated by Tim Wilkerson in E1)

2019 Season Statistics:
20 round wins; ranked third in points 
 
Career Statistics:
459 races; 18 wins (two Top Fuel); 18 No. 1 qualifiers (one Top Fuel)

Noteworthy:
  • Has been to the final round in four different categories at Bandimere Speedway (Funny Car, Top Fuel, Top Alcohol Funny Car, and Super Gas)
  • Notched his career-first final round at the 1991 Denver event while competing in Top Fuel

Quotable:
“I’ve been going to Denver for so long, and it’s such a cool place. It’s so unique, so different and the one thing I think is really cool is to see the performance gains we’ve made there. You used to go there, and everybody would slow way down and blow up a bunch of parts and not run really well, and now you go there and we don’t run much slower. That’s been amazing to see. Everybody knows how hard it is to race up there, so I think the fans appreciate the strides everyone has made there. It’s cool we’re going out there and running so well.
 
“Normally, the start of the Western Swing is where we start to hit our stride. To already be in our stride, your focus turns to making sure we can keep this going. The way the team has performed, if we can carry that momentum and put together the back half with this year’s front half, we’ll be in good shape the rest of the year.”

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