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Tricky Tipster: Dodge Power Brokers NHRA Mile-High Nationals

When it comes to predicting winners, Bandimere Speedway has historically been a tough place to handicap because there are almost no comparable facilities. In this case, it's often best to look at previous years to see who has a proper thin-air combination and who struggles at altitude. To that end, Tipster has labeled Steve Torrence, Robert Hight, Erica Enders, and Eddie Krawiec as the favorites.
15 Jul 2022
NHRA National Dragster staff
Tricky Tipster®
Tipster

 

 


Bandimere Speedway, home of the week’s Dodge Power Brokers NHRA Mile-High Nationals, offers what is arguably the best view on the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series tour, but with more than 5,800 feet of natural elevation, it also comes with its own unique set of challenges.

When it comes to predicting winners, Bandimere has historically been a tough place to handicap because there are almost no comparable facilities. In this case, its often best to look at previous years to see who has a proper thin-air combination and who struggles at altitude. To that end, Tipster has labeled Steve Torrence, Robert Hight, Erica Enders, and Eddie Krawiec as the favorites.


TOP FUEL

The favorite: No one in their right mind ever thought we’d get to mid-July and still be waiting for the Capco team to get their first win, but here we are. Steve Torrence is tired of answering questions about his first win of the season, and this is a perfect opportunity for him to do something about it. Torrence has won the last two Denver races in 2019 and 2021 (there was no 2020 event), and he’s also won three of the last six. Torrence didn’t just win the last two Denver races; he was dominant in both of them, so that bodes well for him to have a breakthrough event this weekend.

The contenders: There are many in Top Fuel, but a few have separated themselves from the pack, including Mike Salinas, Brittany Force, and Justin Ashley, who occupy three of the top four spots in the championship standings. Interestingly enough, none of the above drivers has ever won the Denver race and only Force has even been to a final (2014).

The dark horse: If you’re looking for an upset, you’ve come to the right place because Denver is famous for it. Remember when a previously unknown J.R. Todd beat Tony Schumacher in 2006? Or how about last year when Joey Haas went all the way to the final and nearly pulled off the upset of the year? Strange things happen in Denver, and there’s several drivers who could benefit from a bit of mountain magic. Would it be a big surprise if Antron Brown, Leah Pruett, Doug Kalitta, or Shawn Langdon collected their first wins of the season here? We think not.

Odds:
Steve Torrence        Capco                           3-1
Mike Salinas        Scrappers                4-1
Brittany Force        Monster Energy            5-1
Austin Prock        Montana Brands        6-1
Justin Ashley        Phillips Connect            7-1
Leah Pruett        Dodge Power Brokers        8-1
Doug Kalitta        Mac Tools                9-1
Shawn Langdon        DHL                    10-1
Antron Brown        Matco Tools            11-1
Tony Schumacher    SCAG/Maynard            16-1
Field                                                    22-1

FUNNY CAR

The favorite: Robert Hight and the Auto Club team have two things going for them heading to Denver, and both are important. First, they’re coming off a very impressive win in Norwalk, and in this sport, momentum means everything. Secondly, Hight has a long history of success in the Mile-High city, having won this event five times in his career, including his most recent victory over Tommy Johnson Jr. in 2017. Hight took over the points lead following his Norwalk victory, but he's just 21 points ahead of Matt Hagan with Ron Capps lurking not far in the distance. He needs a big Western Swing in order to stay on top.

The contenders: Other than Hight, Capps and Hagan have done most of the damage this year in Funny Car, so they must be considered as strong possibilities to leave Denver with a victory. Hagan is the defending event champ and also has a runner-up way back in 2011. Capps has just one win in 2009, but also has three runner-up finishes.

Historically, the real master of the Denver track, and a strong contender for this year’s title, is John Force. The 16-time champ has been to the final 13 times in his amazing career and has delivered eight wins, more than any other driver in any class. Force has already won this year, and there’s no reason to think he won’t win again.

The dark horse: Alexis DeJoria was our dark horse from the Nowalk race, and we’re going to trend in that direction again, especially because she was the runner-up here a year ago. Cruz Pedregon and Bob Tasca III also seem to have their fair share of success in Denver, and both are considered overdue for a breakthrough weekend. Finally, there’s Tim Wilkerson, who always seems to do better than most when it comes to addressing variables, such as a hot track and thin air.

Odds:
Robert Hight        Auto Club Chevy                3-1
Matt Hagan        Dodge Power Brokers Dodge        4-1
Ron Capps            NAPA Dodge                5-1
Bob Tasca III        Motorcraft Ford                6-1
John Force            Peak/Blu Def Chevy            7-1
Tim Wilkerson        LRS Ford                            8-1
Cruz Pedregon        Snap-on Dodge                8-1
Alexis DeJoria        Bandero Toyota                15-1
J.R. Todd            DHL Toyota                9-1        
Field                                                            22-1

PRO STOCK

The favorite: We really ought to be going with Greg Anderson here because he’s won the last two Denver Pro Stock races contested in 2018 and 2019, but honestly, why would anyone bet against Erica Enders right now? Enders is off to one of the best starts in this or any other season with five wins in eight events, and her recent win in Norwalk was one of her most dominant. That being said, Denver is one of the few places where Enders hasn’t won. In fact, she’s never appeared in a final round, but hey, there is a first time for everything, isn’t there?

The contenders: We’ve granted favorite status to Enders, but in reality, it should probably go to Anderson because he’s got a long history of success in Denver, including back-to-back wins in 2018-19, the last time that Pro Stock was contested here. Anderson is still chasing his 100th win, and by all accounts, he’s getting a bit impatient.

Other than Anderson, we like Aaron Stanfield this week because he’s been extremely consistent, and why not take a stab at Kyle Koretsky and Dallas Glenn, who appear poised to win their first race of the season. Ironically, Glenn and Koretsky have never raced in Denver, so it will be a learning experience for both of them.

The darkhorse: The conditions in Denver affect Pro Stock cars (and bikes) far more than their nitro-burning counterparts, so maybe there is an advantage to be gained by testing there. In that case, Denver resident Deric Kramer might have a sizable home-field advantage with his Get BioFuel Camaro. The same could be said for rookie Camrie Caruso, who reportedly tested in Denver more than a week in advance of the event.

Odds:
Erica Enders            Elite/Melling Camaro            2-1
Greg Anderson            HendrickCars.com Camaro        5-2
Aaron Stanfield            Janac Bros/J3 Energy Camaro    4-1
Kyle Koretsky            Lucas Oil Products Camaro        6-1
Deric Kramer            Get Bio Fuel Camaro            7-1
Dallas Glenn            RAD Torque Systems Camaro    8-1
Camrie Caruso            SHA Camaro                9-1
Matt Hartford            Total Seal Camaro            10-1
Mason McGaha            Harlow Sammons Camaro        11-1
Chris McGaha            Harlow Sammons Camaro        12-1
Field                                            18-1

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE

The favorite: This is another tough one because bikes are also affected heavily by the mountain air, and the class has changed a lot over the last year or so. To that end, we’re going to take a bit of a chance and go with Eddie Krawiec as our favorite. Why, you ask? It’s simple. Krawiec had a great bike in Norwalk, and the Vance & Hines team appeared to fix a lot of the issues that had plagued them in the early part of the season. Krawiec has also been to seven Denver finals, winning four of them.

The contenders: Let’s start with Matt Smith because he’s the defending event champion and the world champ. Smith also won back-to-back Denver titles in 2007-08, so he knows a thing or two about altitude tuning. The only drawback is he’s still learning the new Suzuki program.

Smith’s wife, Angie, also figures to be in a good spot to claim her first win of the season because the conditions at Bandimere Speedway have traditionally been favorable to V-Twin bikes. After her impressive win in Norwalk, it's also hard to overlook Angelle Sampey, a two-time Denver winner. There is also the interesting case of Steve Johnson and Karen Stoffer, who started the season on fire but have since cooled. Should either one find their stride, it could result in a game-changing victory.

The darkhorse: At this point, we should just keep picking Joey Gladstone until he finally pulls off his long-awaited first victory. Gladstone has been overdue for quite some time, but his recent runner-up in Norwalk is a clear indicator that the long wait might finally be coming to an end. When it comes to upsets, Denver has a reputation. Remember Blaine Hale’s victory in 2003? Or How about the late Shawn Gann’s final victory in 2013?  

Odds:
Eddie Krawiec            Vance & Hines Suzuki            3-1
Matt Smith            Denso Suzuki                4-1
Angie Smith            Denso Buell                5-1
Angelle Sampey            Vance & Hines Suzuki            6-1
Steve Johnson            Slick 50 Suzuki                6-1
Karen Stoffer            Big St. Charles Suzuki            7-1
Jerry Savoie            White Alligator Suzui            8-1
Joey Gladstone            Reed Motorsports Suzuki        9-1
Jimmy Underdahl        Scrappers Suzuki            11-1
Marc Ingwersen            Buckeye HD Buell            15-1
Field                                            20-1