Good Afternoon race fans!
This weekend the NHRA rolled into Denver, Colorado for the Dodge Power Brokers NHRA Mile-High Nationals, aka the start of the Western Swing and it was quite the race.
To preface this, the Western Swing is a string of three back to back to back west coast races. It starts in Denver, goes to Sonoma and ends in Seattle. It’s every drivers dream to win them all and ‘Sweep The Swing’ but it’s incredibly difficult and the last person to do so was Antron Brown in 2009.
So, starting in the nitro ranks, we have Top Fuel. Because this race is in Denver and it’s quite literally a mile high, the air is so thin that it’s very difficult to tune for and there ends up being a lot of engine carnage because they just don’t like it. Onto the racing, on the left side of the ladder, No. 12 qualified Shawn Langdon started his day by taking on No. 5 Greg Carrillo. They were essentially even off the line, but Greg had almost immediate tire smoke, while Shawn launched hard and was hooked up, running a 3.89 to Greg’s 5.36. In the second round he faced the tough Mike Salinas. Mike was quicker off the tree, (.056) to (.075), but Shawn was able to chase him down and grab the win with a 3.87 to a 3.90. His semifinal race was against Josh Hart. It was a good race, but with a 3.90 to a 3.93, Shawn and the DHL team were into the finals. On the other side of the ladder, No. 3 qualified Leah Pruett started her day by taking on No. 14 Antron Brown. Antron had a slight advantage off the line, but Leah quickly caught up and Antron ran into some trouble, so with a 3.91 to a 4.18, Leah was moving on. In the second round she faced the tough Clay Millican. Clay had trouble firing the car on the starting line, starter issue, and they ended up borrowing one from Leah’s team, but they got the car fired and did an abbreviated burnout. Clay had a large advantage off the line, (.066) to (.102), but Leah was able to quickly drive around him and it’s a good thing she was out ahead because they both lost traction and she ended up coasting to a win with a 4.05 to a 4.19. Her semifinal matchup was against a tough customer in Justin Ashley. Leah got off the line first, (.015) to (.059) and never looked back. Her 3.87 to his 4.09 put her and the Dodge Power Brokers team into the finals, her first final of the season. This looked like it was going to be a really fun race, but Shawn had an issue on the starting line and had to shut off so Leah had a bye, where she ran a 3.88. This is the first win for Tony Stewart Racing Nitro in Top Fuel, and it’s extra special because Tony Stewart, who Leah is married to, won last night in the SRX series. They were both emotional in their starting line and top end interviews and that really showed how much this means to them and the entire team, so huge congrats to them.
Next up we have Funny Car. There were 14 cars in the field, so if you look at the ladder, it was a little wonky. But, on the left side, No. 4 qualified Bob Tasca III started his day by taking on No. 11 Chad Green. Though Chad left first, Bob quickly made it up and cruised to a win with a 3.99 to a 4.13. In the second round he faced the always tough Ron Capps. Ron had a slight advantage, but started to lose traction, although he did his best to stay with it, while Bob was on a better run. And even though he got loose at the end of the track, Bob managed to take the win with a 4.22 to a 4.57. His semifinal matchup was against Jack Wyatt. This was Bob’s race all the way, off the line first and never faltered. His 4.03 to Jack’s 4.75, put him and the Ford Motorcraft team into the finals. On the other side of the ladder, No. 2 qualified Robert Hight started his day by taking on No. 13 Terry Haddock. Robert had this race from the time the tree lit up and his 4.03 to Terry’s 4.39 had him advancing. In the second round he faced the always tough Tim Wilkerson. Robert did have the starting line advantage, (.075) to (.105) and though he slowed on the top end, did collect the win with a 4.25 to a 4.40. Tim did drift out of the groove at the end collect the finish line cones, which is his second violation of the season and it cost him 10 points. Robert’s semifinal matchup was against his boss John Force. This was a super good and super close race. Robert’s (.056) to John’s (.112) helped him get a hole shot win as John was quicker ET wise and speed wise, but with a 4.04 to a 4.03, Robert and the AAA team were into the finals. This was a very good race, very close reaction times, but in the Bob ran into some problems and Robert went a to b so with a 4.06 to a 4.26, Robert took home the win and the Wally.
Moving to the world of Pro Stock, we have Pro Stock cars. On the left side of the ladder, No. 1 qualified Aaron Stanfield started his day with a bye run as there were only 15 cars. He had terrible tire shake immediately, so he pushed the clutch in and coasted to a 14.35. In the second round he faced the always tough Bo Butner. This was a good and very close race, but with a 6.99 to a 7.01, Aaron was moving on. His semifinal matchup was against Troy Coughlin Jr. This again, was such a close race, but with a 6.98 to a 6.99, him and the Janac Bros Racing team were into the finals. On the other side of the ladder, No. 7 qualified Matt Hartford started his day by taking on No. 10 Deric Kramer. Deric had a huge lead off the line, (.013) to (.059), but Matt ran him down at the end and with a 6.98 to a 7.02, he was moving on. In the second round he faced Mason McGaha. This was a decent race, and Matt’s quicker light, (.032) to (.045) helped him get the hole shot, so with a 6.99 to a 6.98, he advanced. His semifinal matchup was against Cristian Cuadra. Cristian went red by (-.001), giving Matt the win immediately and he ran a 6.97, putting him and the Total Seal team into the finals. Matt hammered the tree, (.004) to Aaron’s (.041) and never looked back, taking home the win and the Wally with a 6.96 to Aaron’s 7.05.
And finally we have Pro Stock Motorcycle. There were also 13 bikes on the property today, so the ladder looked a little wonky. On the left side of the ladder, No. 1 qualified Matt Smith started his day with a bye run, and he ran a 7.11. In the second round he faced Marc Ingwersen. This was a decent race, but with a 7.10 to a 7.19, Matt was moving on. His semifinal matchup was against the always tough Angelle Sampey. Angelle had some issues, while Matt ran a to b and with a 7.12 to a 7.25, Matt and the Denso team were into the finals. On the other side of the ladder, No. 6 qualified Joey Gladstone started his day by taking on No. 9 Ryan Oehler. Ryan went red by (-.100), giving Joey the win immediately and he ran a 7.17. In the second round he faced the always tough Eddie Krawiec. This was a good race, but with a 7.15 to a 7.18, he was moving on. His semifinal matchup was against Angie Smith. They were basically even off the line, even though Angie had a small advantage, but Joey had gone around he by the time they went by the tree and with a 7.19 to a 7.21, he and the Reed Motorsports team were into the finals. Joey gave it his all in this final, he was (.018) to Matt’s (.048) but that didn’t matter, Matt had the speed and the elapsed time and with a 7.09 to a 7.16, Matt grabbed the win and took home the Wally.
The next race will be the Denso NHRA Sonoma Nationals, July 22nd – 24th in Sonoma, California.