After four rounds of qualifying at picturesque Bandimere Speedway, drivers in all four Professional categories have found their positions and first-round partners, and they're ready to race for the Dodge Power Brokers NHRA Mile-High Nationals trophy.
Brittany Force and her Monster Energy/Flav-R-Pac Top Fuel dragster made an enormous move in the final round of qualifying to rocket to the top for the second consecutive season. Along the way, Force reset the Bandimere Speedway record for speed on a ginormous 3.72-second pass at 337 mph. She'll be looking for her first Denver trophy and will start the day with a first-round meeting with Rob Passey.
Last year's Top Fuel winner, Leah Pruett, wants to make her sponsor proud at their title event, and she'll be starting from the No. 7 spot in her Dodge Direct Connection rail and racing Josh Hart in round one. Pruett has two wins in Denver, 2018 and 2022, and Hart is seeking his first for R+L Carriers.
Doug Kalitta and his Mac Tools team made their way to the No. 2 position – his best start since he was No. 1 in Phoenix – on a strong 3.77 pass. Kalitta won this race in 2010, and the family name holds much history on the mountain as Connie Kalitta won the event in back-to-back years in 1984-85, and Connie's son, Scott, claimed three wins (1994, 1995, and 2004). Kalitta's first-round opponent will be Terry Totten.
Antron Brown, Tony Schumacher, and Steve Torrence each have three wins in Denver and will be looking to emerge as the most winning currently competing Top Fuel driver on the hill by claiming one more. Brown will race Buddy Hull, Schumacher will race Clay Millican, and Torrence will square off with yesterday's Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge winner – and the points leader – Justin Ashley.
The Funny Car points leader enters raceday at the Dodge Power Brokers Mile-High Nationals as the No. 1 qualifier and winner of the Denver Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge. Matt Hagan was the 2021 Denver winner and has claimed three wins in four final rounds so far this season. The driver of the Dodge Direct Connection Funny Car will start his day with a first-round meeting with Chris King.
No. 2 qualifier John Force, driver of the Peak-branded Chevrolet, is the most winning driver across all Pro categories at Bandimere Speedway with eight previous wins. His most recent triumph there came in 2018. He's slated for a first-round match with Steven Densham, while his John Force Racing teammate, Robert Hight, will race Alex Laughlin in round one. Hight, the defending event champion, has five previous Denver wins.
Defending Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders has never won Denver before, and it's something she fiercely wants to accomplish. Starting from the No. 1 position for the second time this season, Enders, in the Johnson's Horsepowered Garage Chevrolet Camaro, will race Elite Motorsports teammate Fernando Cuadra Jr. in round one. She will also be aiming for a double as she is competing in Mountain Motor Pro Stock.
Denver-native Deric Kramer is on the same side of the ladder as Enders, and he is intent on claiming a trophy at Bandimere Speedway for the first time. He'll take his GetBioFuel.com Chevrolet to the starting line for a meeting with Jerry Tucker in round one. Defending event champion Matt Hartford and his Rottler/Total Seal/GETTRX Chevrolet are aiming to go back-to-back after winning Norwalk. Hartford will race Fernando Cuadra Sr. in round one.
With four Denver wins, the most decorated driver in the history of the category will look to scoop up one final trophy at the Mile-High Nationals in its current location. Greg Anderson will race third-generation competitor Mason McGaha in round one.
Pro Stock Motorcycle's No. 1 qualifier, Hector Arana Jr., will have a bye run in the first round as he begins his quest to claim a second Denver trophy – he won here in 2018. The rider of the GETTRX Buell also won Norwalk and would very much like to go back-to-back and rise even higher in the standings. He's currently No. 2.
Points leader Gaige Herrera and his Mission Foods Suzuki haven't seen the inside of the winner's circle since Chicago; he would like to get back to victory lane and having Andrew Hines as his crew chief comes with a certain age in the thin Denver air – Hines is the most winning rider at Bandimere Speedway with five wins. Herrera will race Chris Bostick in the first round. Teammate Eddie Krawiec has four wins at the Mile-High Nationals (he'll race Steve Johnson in round one), as does Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge winner Matt Smith. Smith, the defending event champion, will square off with Kelly Clontz.
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; 337.33 mph by B. Force, July '23
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 - 7.047 seconds by Hector Arana Jr., July '23; 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)
SUNDAY, July 16
NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series eliminations begin at 11:00 a.m.
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