The 10th of 21 events on the 2023 Camping World Drag Racing Series schedule is taking place this weekend at famed Bandimere Speedway with the 43rd annual Dodge Power Brokers NHRA Mile-High Nationals. The scenic Denver-area facility, carved into what's known as "Thunder Mountain," is celebrating its 65th year, and all four Professional categories are on hand for the celebration.
The most recent event on the tour took place in Norwalk three weeks ago, and the winners are still riding high, including Top Fuel winner Leah Pruett. Pruett, currently No. 3 in the standings in her Dodge Direct Connection dragster, is the defending event champion at Bandimere Speedway, where last season she claimed her first win for the Tony Stewart Racing Nitro team. She also won the event in 2018 and raced extensively at the facility as a Jr. Drag Racing League competitor, so winning the last event scheduled to take place at its current, historic location would mean much to Pruett.
As for who has claimed the most Top Fuel trophies on the mountain, Antron Brown, Tony Schumacher, and Steve Torrence each have three. Points leader Justin Ashley is seeking his first Denver win.
Blake Alexander, who won his first Funny Car title in Norwalk, won't be making the trip to Denver and will shift his focus to Seattle to pick up the momentum. Meanwhile, Mile-High Nationals defending event champion Robert Hight is on the entry list with his Cornwell Tools/AAA Chevrolet, and the three-time Funny Car champion has a long-proven success record in Denver with five total wins there. He is No. 3 in the standings and has two wins so far this season. Hight's boss, John Force, has the most wins of any competitor at Bandimere Speedway with eight victories claimed. Force's most recent win came in 2018.
Funny Car points leader Matt Hagan and his Dodge Direct Connection entry won Denver in 2021. Hagan, who has three wins in four final rounds on the season, was the No. 1 qualifier at this event last season.
Matt Hartford's win for Rottler, Total Seal, and GETTRX in Norwalk was a breakthrough as his first of the season in the Pro Stock class and the sixth of a career that began in 2006. Hartford happens to be the defending event champion at Bandimere Speedway as well after his final-round defeat of Aaron Stanfield last season. Hartford is No. 2 in the points behind Dallas Glenn, who has yet to see success on the mountain in a Pro Stock car. The 2020 Rookie of the Year and lifelong Sportsman competitor stayed sharp between Norwalk and Denver by racing Dan Provost's dragster at the Rocky Mountain Nationals in Edmonton, Alberta. Glenn has three wins in five final rounds so far this year.
It would make sense that the most winning driver in the class, Greg Anderson, has the most Denver wins; his four wins lead in active Pro Stock drivers, although the most winning Pro Stock driver in history at Bandimere Speedway is a tie between Bob Glidden and longtime Mopar campaigner Allen Johnson. They each have seven. Hartford and Anderson are the only two active drivers with previous wins on Thunder Mountain. Notably, reigning Pro Stock champion Erica Enders has yet to claim a Denver win, and she would like to add another win to the one she claimed in Bristol earlier this season.
Pro Stock Motorcycle's reigning and six-time champion Matt Smith returns to Bandimere as the to defend the title he won there last season aboard his DENSO Suzuki. Overall, Smith has raced to victory four times in Denver, as has Eddie Krawiec, but Andrew Hines – crew chief for Krawiec and points leader Gaige Herrera – has the most in Bandimere history with five. Hector Arana Jr. scored his first win of the season in Norwalk and is aiming to build on that with another Denver win. He won at Bandimere Speedway in 2018.
Mission Foods Suzuki rider Herrera, who started the season with three consecutive wins, four straight finals, and every low qualifier award up for grabs, will be looking to get back to his winning ways after a second-round exit to Jianna Evaristo in Norwalk. Bristol winner Steve Johnson is in the hunt for his first win in Denver.
2022 EVENT WINNERS
Leah Pruett, Top Fuel; Robert Hight, Funny Car; Matt Hartford, Pro Stock; Matt Smith, Pro Stock Motorcycle
Joe Amato, 6, TF; John Force, 8, FC; Bob Glidden and Allen Johnson, 7 each, Pro Stock; Andrew Hines, 5, Pro Stock Motorcycle
Top Fuel - 3.717 seconds by Brittany Force, July '21; 330.31 mph by Steve Torrence, July '19
Funny Car - 3.889 seconds by Courtney Force, July '17; 329.18 mph by Tim Wilkerson, July '22
Pro Stock - 6.877 seconds by Allen Johnson, July '15; 201.01 mph by Shane Gray, July '15
Pro Stock Motorcycle - 7.090 seconds by Matt Smith, July '22; 190.22 mph by M. Smith, July '22
Top Fuel - 3.623 sec. by Brittany Force, Sept. '19, Reading, Pa.; 338.94 mph by Brittany Force, Nov. ‘22, Pomona, Calif.
Funny Car - 3.793 sec. by Robert Hight, Aug. '17, Brainerd; 339.87 mph by Robert Hight, July ’17, Sonoma, Calif.
Pro Stock - 6.450 sec. by Erica Enders, March '22, Gainesville, Fla.; 215.55 mph by Erica Enders, May '14, Englishtown, N.J.
Pro Stock Motorcycle - 6.665 sec. by Karen Stoffer, March '22, Gainesville, Fla.; 205.04 mph by Matt Smith, July '21, Sonoma, Calif.
EVENT SCHEDULE (Mountain Daylight Time)
FRIDAY, July 14
NHRA Lucas Oil Series Drag Racing Series qualifying and time trials at 8:45 a.m.
NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series qualifying at 3:30 and 7:00 p.m.
SATURDAY, July 15
NHRA Lucas Oil Series Drag Racing Series eliminations at 8:45 a.m
NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series qualifying at 2:30 and 6:00 p.m.
SUNDAY, July 16
NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series eliminations begin at 11:00 a.m.
FRIDAY, July 14, FS1 will televise one and a half hours qualifying coverage at 7:00 p.m. ET
Sunday, July 16, FS1 will televise one hour of qualifying coverage at 10:30 a.m. ET
SUNDAY, July 16, FOX will televise three hours of live finals coverage at 4:00 p.m. ET
Watch all day on NHRA.tv