2014 Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals Saturday photo gallery
Saturday, July 19, 2014

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Mile-High NHRA Nationals
Last update: 10:30 p.m.
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Saturday’s activities at Bandimere Speedway kicked off with a track walk to benefit the Go Red for Women charity. Several hundred drivers and fans took part in the special event.

One of the most picturesque facilities on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series tour, Bandimere Speedway has long been a favorite of fans and racers alike. The track hosted a full house for the second straight day.

Rookie Chaz Kennedy rode the Star Racing Buell to a competitive 7.266 to qualify No. 10, and he will be paired with the Suzuki of Jim Underdahl in the first round of Pro Stock Motorcycle eliminations. 

After struggling on Friday, Gainesville winner Steve Johnson made a huge move on Saturday with a 7.235 that put his Vance & Hines-powered Suzuki solidly into the top half of the field.

Erica Enders-Stevens, right, with her sister, Courtney, celebrated another strong qualifying effort by the Elite Motorsports team. Enders-Stevens finished as the No. 3 seed in Pro Stock with a 6.934 best.

Chris McGaha slows after a competitive 6.949-second run that placed him into the top half of what became a very competitive Pro Stock field. The top half of the field is separated by just .045-second.

Funny Car points leader Robert Hight wasn’t happy after failing to make a complete run in Q3. Despite having to shut the car off early, though, his Auto Club Ford Mustang will start eliminations from the No. 2 position.

Tommy Johnson Jr. continued his recent string of consistent qualifying performances. Since reworking the front half of the car several races back, the Make-A-Wish Dodge has been running much better, including posting a 4.186 in Q3.

He wasn’t the low qualifier, but no one in Top Fuel was more consistent than Steve Torrence, who made four runs in the 3.8s, including a best of 3.831 for the No. 2 spot. Torrence was also the only driver to top 320 mph, a feat he has accomplished three times thus far.

In her nitro debut, Jenna Haddock did what she needed to do to qualify when her 4.557 run held up for the Top Fuel bump. Haddock will be paired with low qualifier Tony Schumacher in round one.

Between Saturday’s Pro sessions, the crew from the Gas Monkey Garage participated in a special exhibition match race between one of the new 707-horsepower ’14 Hellcat Dodge Challengers and a vintage ’71 Hemi Challenger. The new Dodge won, but both cars attracted a lot of attention from the Bandimere fans.

Fans got a chance to meet their favorite Dodge drivers, including Funny Car teammates Matt Hagan and Jack Beckman during the annual Mopar autograph session in Denver. The event also featured Chrysler Engineer Tom Hoover, who was instrumental in developing the modern Hemi engine.

On Friday, Eddie Krawiec wasn’t able to match the performance of his Harley teammate Andrew Hines, but that changed on Saturday when Krawiec made the second-quickest pass of the day with a 7.208 to move into the No. 3 spot.

Another racer who struggled a bit on Friday but found his footing on Saturday was reigning Pro Stock Motorcycle champ Matt Smith, who finished qualifying in the No. 8 spot and will take on his old rival Hector Arana Sr. in round one.

Nebraska’s Steve Kalkowski qualified 16th in his Pontiac GXP. Although he doesn’t run many NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series events, the part-time racer will get a race-day start on Sunday.

No. 1 qualifier Jason Line stole the pole with a 6.924-second pass in Q4. His Summit Equipment Chevy made four clean runs during qualifying, and he’s optimistic heading into eliminations on Sunday.

Bob Tasca III, flying a special paint job to promote Juvenile Diabetes this weekend, posted a 4.173 in Q4, his third run in the teens this weekend.

John Force continued to dominate the Funny Car field in Denver; his 4.058-second pass in Q4 was more than .050 seconds better than the second-quickest run of the session.

Bob Vandergriff Jr., the runner-up at last year’s Denver race, has produced consistent numbers throughout qualifying. His C&J Energy dragster will start eliminations from the No. 4 spot. 

The driver who made the biggest improvement on Saturday was arguably Terry McMillen, who drove his Amalie Motor Oil dragster to a 3.887 to earn a top-half starting spot. McMillen also posted a stout 319.14 speed.