The tradition-rich three-week NHRA Western Swing may be the ultimate test of skill, perseverance, and adaptability on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series circuit, and it begins at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, at scenic Bandimere Speedway, home of the 35th annual Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals, July 18-20.
At an elevation of more than 5,800 feet, the Bandimere Speedway altitude affects everything from engine tune-ups to aerodynamics. Crews must adapt their setups to power-making combinations and battle the lack of down force to tackle the unique racing environment.
The Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals begins a three-race odyssey where NHRA teams will spend three straight weeks on the road, traveling from Denver to Sonoma and then on to Seattle. At each venue, teams will face extremely different conditions, but none will present quite the challenge that Bandimere Speedway provides.
Spencer Massey (Top Fuel), Cruz Pedregon (Funny Car), Allen Johnson (Pro Stock), and Shawn Gann (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were winners of the 2013 event. The race will once again be televised on ESPN2 HD.
The 14th stop on the 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series circuit is anyone’s game. The teams of the Mello Yello Series will be pushed to the core as they cross the western United States in search of winning runs and badly needed points. A terrible result at Bandimere Speedway could spell doom for a team’s chances in qualifying for the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship, the six-race playoffs that determine the Mello Yello Series world champions.
Massey is hoping he has what it takes to secure a second straight win at Bandimere Speedway in Top Fuel. The Battery Extender by Schumacher Electric dragster driver has already raced to two wins this season and currently sits fifth in points. He will be challenged by his Don Schumacher Racing teammates Antron Brown, who has two wins at the Denver event, and seven-time world champion Tony Schumacher. Series leader Doug Kalitta, reigning world champ Shawn Langdon, and sophomore-sensation Brittany Force are among the many challengers who will present obstacles as Massey attempts to climb the mountain once again.
In Funny Car, Pedregon is starting to turn his 2014 season around with a victory at Englishtown and a runner-up finish at Topeka. The driver of the Snap-on Tools Toyota Camry would love to repeat in Denver and would give him a huge momentum boost into the Western Swing. Current points leader Robert Hight has four wins on the season and two career victories at Bandimere. John Force is a six-time event winner in Colorado and enters the event hot off his win in Norwalk. Other championship-caliber drivers include Courtney Force, Mopar driver Matt Hagan, two-time season winner Alexis DeJoria, Bristol winner Tommy Johnson Jr., Del Worsham, and Tim Wilkerson.
Team Mopar/Magneti Marelli Dodge Dart driver Allen Johnson took the Pro Stock win in Denver last year, and he has started quickly in 2014 with three victories in the first 10 races. Johnson, the 2012 Pro Stock world champ, has five victories at Bandimere Speedway and would love to add a sixth for his sponsor. Johnson’s teammate, Jeg Coughlin Jr., will also be a threat at the track in 2014. He rebounded from a sluggish start to record victories in Atlanta and Englishtown, and he would also like to get the victory for his sponsor. Points leader Erica Enders-Stevens is the most successful female driver in Pro Stock history with 10 career victories and four this season, but she has yet to climb the mountain to win at Bandimere. Other class hopefuls include Vincent Nobile, Greg Anderson, Jason Line, V. Gaines, Dave Connolly, Shane Gray, and Chris McGaha.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, the Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson team of Andrew Hines and Eddie Krawiec sit first and second, respectively, in the points standings and will face strong competition from the likes of reigning world champion Matt Smith, John Hall, Hector Arana Jr., Michael Ray, and Scotty Pollacheck.
There will be a special “Go Red for Women Track Walk” on Saturday morning prior to racing to bring awareness to heart disease. The Track Walk gives fans the chance to walk the same track where NHRA drivers race at speeds of more than 300 mph and are joined by some of NHRA’s favorite drivers. The experience is free for all Saturday ticket holders.
As always, fans will have the opportunity to 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 enjoy some cherished face time and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
Fans will also 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.
To purchase tickets for the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals, please call Bandimere Speedway Box Office at 800-664-8946 or visit www.bandimere.com.