KALITTA, JOHNSON GRAB FIRST WINS OF THE SEASON IN DENVER: It was a day of firsts as Top Fuel pilot Doug Kalitta and Pro Stock driver Allen Johnson both raced to their first victories in more than a year Sunday at the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway near Denver. For Kalitta, the win over runner-up Brandon Bernstein was his first since February 2009, when he won the season-opening Winternationals.
“When I saw the win light come on down there, it was real special, a great relief,” said Kalitta. “They do a great job here, and each year, the facility gets better and better, and I’m just glad to finally get a win here. I’ve been close a lot of times and, fortunately, we got it done today.”
Though Bernstein was unable to collect his first win of the season, he did clinch his spot in the Countdown to 1 playoffs. In Pro Stock, Johnson picked up his first win of the season and third win at his title sponsor’s event, a track that he has all but dominated in the past few years, when he drove past competitor Jeg Coughlin in the final round.
“We wouldn’t mind having all 23 races here,” said Johnson. “We really have an awesome setup for here. The engine guys, the car guys and everyone else did their job, and I can’t say enough about them. We just made a perfect run every run.”
From here, drivers in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series will have one more opportunity to clinch a spot in the Top 10 point standings and advance to the Countdown to 1 playoffs as the series heads to Northern Minnesota August 12–15 for the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals. For results from the recently completed Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals, visit NHRA.com.
HIGHT, HINES RACE TO VICTORY IN DENVER: Defending Funny Car world champion Robert Hight and former three-time Pro Stock Motorcycle world champion Andrew Hines were able to hold off the competition in their classes to pick up the win Sunday at the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway. Hight drove his Auto Club Ford Mustang past team owner John Force in the final round to pick up his fourth win of the season and move even closer to Force and that first-place spot in the point standings.
“It’s nice to get back on the winning side here in Denver,” said Hight. “My crew chief Jimmy Prock has never had a problem making horsepower, but with the racetrack being so good last year with the cooling system and everything, we just didn’t have enough horsepower, and that bothered Jimmy. He came in here with a game plan—new parts and different things—and he definitely found the horsepower that he needed.”
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, former world champion Hines was able to hold off runner-up Karen Stoffer to pick up his third win of the season in his second consecutive final round appearance.
“I grew up three hours south of here in Trinidad, Colorado, so it’s good to win here on the mountain,” said Hines. “This place is my home. We didn’t have the best motorcycle this weekend, just like we didn’t have the best motorcycle (when we advanced to the final) at Sonoma, but we were able to get the job done. That says a lot about our team.”
For results from the recently completed Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals, visit NHRA.com.
LUCAS OIL NHRA NATIONALS, BRAINERD INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY, August 12–15: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series heads to northern Minnesota for the final race of the Countdown to 10 regular season. Defending event winners include Morgan Lucas (Top Fuel); Tony Pedregon (Funny Car); Greg Anderson (Pro Stock); and Hector Arana (Pro Stock Motorcycle).
MAC TOOLS U.S. NATIONALS PRESENTED BY LUCAS OIL, O’REILLY RACEWAY PARK AT INDIANAPOLIS, September 1–6: The famed Labor Day event at historical O’Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis is the first of six races in the Countdown to 1 playoffs. Defending event winners include Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel); Ashley Force Hood (Funny Car); Jeg Coughlin (Pro Stock); and Hector Arana (Pro Stock Motorcycle).
O’REILLY AUTO PARTS NHRA NATIONALS, zMAX DRAGWAY, September 16–19: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series makes its second stop of the season in North Carolina and second stop of the Countdown to 1 playoffs. Defending event winners include Cory McClenathan (Top Fuel); Robert Hight (Funny Car); Mike Edwards (Pro Stock); and Hector Arana (Pro Stock Motorcycle).
HE SAID, SHE SAID
JUST HAPPY TO CLINCH: Top Fuel pilot Shawn Langdon on clinching his spot in the Countdown to 1 playoffs with his first round appearance at the recently completed Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals:
“Our main goal at the start of the year was to make the field for the Countdown and we clinched our spot today, so that’s good. Although it’s hard to be super excited after a first-round loss; it was just a good race that we lost by a few feet.”
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
10: That’s the number of spots that remain for the Countdown to 1 playoffs (two in Top Fuel, one in Funny Car, two in Pro Stock and five in Pro Stock Motorcycle) in all four classes as the series heads to Brainerd International Raceway for the final race of the regular season, the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals.
DID YOU KNOW…
That Top Fuel pilot Larry Dixon and Pro Stock driver Mike Edwards clinched the No. 1 seeds in the point standings heading into the Countdown to 1 playoffs?
The clinch secures both drivers a 20-point bonus once the playoffs begin in Indianapolis.