John Force raced to his 149th career Funny Car victory and first in over a year on Sunday at the first stop on the three consecutive race Western Swing at the Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway.
Leah Pritchett (Top Fuel), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana Jr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were also winners in their respective categories at the 14th of 24 events on the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.
Force was in his 13th career final round at Bandimere Speedway and was pitted against Ron Capps. In his Peak Chevrolet Camaro SS, Force was able to leave the line ahead of Capps for a winning pass of pass of 4.075-seconds at 315.42 mph to the losing run of 4.067 at 308.71. This is his eight win at the facility.
"I found myself with all of the crashes at probably the lowest I've been, probably worse than '05 when I crashed and was fighting to get back," said Force. "The fire is back in me, I'm fighting."
Force became the winningest Funny Car winner at Bandimere Speedway and this is his first win at the facility since 2016. He defeated Matt Hagan, Cruz Pedregon, and Courtney Force to advance to the finals.
Pritchett dominated the Top Fuel category during the course of the weekend en route to her second win of the season and the seventh in her career. Piloting her Dodge Mopar 1320 dragster she was No. 1 qualifier for the second consecutive event and the 10th time in her career. She faced Doug Kalitta in the finals and raced to a winning pass of 3.831 at 316.45 to the losing run of 3.852 at 319.82.
"Our crew has really impressed, attitude of gratitude, as high as the altitude here," said Pritchett following the victory. "They chipped away at it and didn't let themselves get down earlier this year when we were in a slump and they didn't let me get myself down in a slump either. I always have my confidence in them and they have their confidence in me and this weekend we pulled it all together."
Pritchett defeated Terry Totten, Scott Palmer, and Clay Millican for her win at Bandimere Speedway.
In Pro Stock, Anderson raced to his first win of the year, third at the facility and the 91st in his career when he defeated his teammate Jason Line in the finals. Anderson's 6.943 at 196.53 pass in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro to the losing run of 6.947 at 196.19 gave him the victory to snap his winless streak. Anderson also retook the points lead in the category.
"We have had a heck of a battle this year, we have had great running cars but we have made mistakes on Sunday and haven't been able to close the deal," said Anderson. "The class is so tough right now, it is so hard to win. The bottom line is we haven't put forth our best effort on Sunday, we haven't lost giving it our best shot and today we did."
Anderson defeated Joey Grose, Vincent Nobile, and Jeg Coughlin Jr. to advance to the finals.
|Hector Arana, Jr.|
Arana Jr. raced to his first win since the St. Louis event in 2015 on his Lucas Oil EBR for his 12th career win when he bested Jerry Savoie in the finals. Arana Jr. was victorious at the start of the race when Savoie red lit. Arana Jr. went on to record a pass of 7.170 at 185.89. This was the first final round of the year for Arana Jr.
"We have had a fast bike all the time, just been working on consistency and then when the bike was good I was making little errors," said Arana Jr. "Dedication, hard work, and practicing to bring it all together. Finally got over some hurdles over here and now we should be back on track."
The 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season continues with the Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals at Sonoma Raceway July 27-29.
An interview with Funny Car winner JOHN FORCE, JOHN FORCE RACING, PEAK COOLANT & MOTOR OIL CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 5 qualifier; first win of season and 149th of Funny Car career; eighth win at Bandimere Speedway; surpassed 1,300 elimination round wins; competed in his 749th Funny Car race):
EVERY SEASON HAS UPS AND DOWNS, BUT I DON’T THINK THE DOWNS HAVE EVER BEEN AS FAR AS THEY WERE EARLIER THIS SEASON. LET’S TALK ABOUT THE HIGHEST OF THE UPS
“I found myself with all the crashes and everything that happened probably at the lowest – worse than ’07 when I crashed — fighting to get back. I never let on to anybody but it showed that I looked like a mess. Then, after my last crash – I had four of them – John Bandimere calls me and says ‘We’ve got to talk.’ I’m like, ‘Oh, I know you love God and I know where you want to go. And I love Him, too, don’t get me wrong.’ He said, ‘You have to listen.’ He sent me stuff and I started reading. And he took me down this road and I said I don’t even know if I’m going to be able to get back ever and win a race. He said, ‘You can.’ He said, ‘When you get to Denver you’ll be fixed.’ He didn’t say I was going to win Denver. He said when you get there you’ll be fixed. ‘Now go out there and show me who John Force is.’ I found myself."
[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]YOU BEAT SOME GREAT RACERS
“All great racers. I love them all. The fire was in me. I’m fighting. I got tired of hearing me snivel to myself. My wife didn’t even want to talk to me. She said, ‘I know you more than that. I know what you’re going through. I don’t know why I won this race. Maybe God is just showing me."
An interview with Pro Stock winner GREG ANDERSON, KB RACING, SUMMIT RACING EQUIPMENT CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 2 qualifier; first win of season and 91st of career; ninth different Chevrolet Pro Stock winner in 14 races; Pro Stock points leader):
IN THE 14TH RACE OF THE SEASON YOU GET THE WALLY. WHAT KEPT YOU PUSHING?
“This team never gives up. This KB Racing team is the greatest. Even in losing efforts you learn. You have to learn from your losses; you have to learn from your wins. Wonderful weekend. We had a great car here right from the start. Both of our Summit Racing Chevys were wonderful. Can’t thank the guys enough. They did it for me. Thank the Lord we’re back. Two Summit cars in the final. It doesn’t get any better than that. Love this place."
YOU WANT TO WIN EVERYTHING YOU DO. HOW DOES THIS FEEL?
“I do want to win. This class is surrounded by people like that. That’s what makes Pro Stock so great. For those who have been watching this year, it’s been a knock-down-drag-out fight. Every Sunday we lock horns. Everybody can win; nobody’s a favorite. To win one feels so great; it’s just so tough."
ALL-TIME WINNERS ON THE WESTERN SWING, YOU JUST TIED WARREN JOHNSON WITH 11
“That’s pretty cool. I spent a lot of years with Warren. I learned a ton from the man. I respect him, but this is a different life right here and we’re going to try to beat some of those fantastic records he set. He set the bar high and I’m still digging. Some day maybe and that will be a hell of an honor."
AFTER WHAT YOU’VE BEEN THROUGH THE LAST THREE YEARS, IT MUST FEEL LIKE FOREVER THAT YOU STOOD IN THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
“I just knew when and if I got back up here I would definitely be the oldest man on the stage and I look next to me and there’s John Force. I’m not even close. It’s just an honor to be on the stage with him. What a great racer. NHRA Mello Yello drag racing is just the best it’s ever been right now. You saw it today. And it has a great future. I’m just happy to be a part of it"
Final round-by-round results from the 39th annual Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway, the 14th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series:
ROUND ONE — Scott Palmer, 3.894, 317.34 def. Antron Brown, 4.047, 300.13; Blake Alexander, 3.863, 320.81 def. Mike Salinas, 5.827, 118.72; Leah Pritchett, 3.857, 322.81 def. Terry Totten, 4.156, 276.18; Jim Maroney, 4.267, 264.96 def. Brittany Force, 5.524, 129.54; Steve Torrence, 3.899, 325.06 def. Bill Litton, 5.216, 121.99; Clay Millican, 3.824, 327.59 def. Greg Carrillo, 4.088, 309.98; Richie Crampton, 3.870, 317.19 def. Terry McMillen, 6.020, 120.89; Doug Kalitta, 3.849, 320.43 def. Tony Schumacher, 3.852, 321.12;
QUARTERFINALS — Alexander, 3.847, 322.58 def. Torrence, 3.903, 321.12; Pritchett, 3.806, 321.96 def. Palmer, 3.890, 317.34; Millican, 3.887, 295.85 def. Crampton, 5.045, 158.99; Kalitta, 3.897, 302.08 def. Maroney, 4.227, 249.53;
SEMIFINALS — Kalitta, 3.872, 311.63 def. Alexander, 3.857, 320.20; Pritchett, 3.826, 312.93 def. Millican, 3.826, 320.36;
FINAL — Pritchett, 3.831, 316.45 def. Kalitta, 3.852, 319.82.
ROUND ONE — Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 4.103, 293.15 def. Jonnie Lindberg, Ford Mustang, 4.186, 311.92; Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 4.089, 315.78 def. Jeff Diehl, Camry, Foul – Red Light; Courtney Force, Camaro, 4.089, 285.65 def. Terry Haddock, Toyota Solara, 4.834, 193.54; Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 4.689, 182.21 def. Todd Simpson, Charger, Broke – No Show; John Force, Camaro, 4.158, 285.77 def. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.279, 265.69; Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.094, 308.28 def. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.998, 167.99; Ron Capps, Charger, 4.101, 312.93 def. J.R. Todd, Camry, 4.133, 311.27; Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.057, 315.64 def. Shawn Langdon, Camry, 5.128, 165.01;
QUARTERFINALS — J. Force, 4.139, 313.44 def. Pedregon, 4.137, 252.61; Hight, 4.052, 318.09 def. Johnson Jr., 4.117, 313.58; Capps, 4.082, 309.70 def. Beckman, 4.528, 214.25; C. Force, 4.121, 306.88 def. Wilkerson, 4.268, 272.12;
SEMIFINALS — J. Force, 4.048, 318.62 def. C. Force, 4.453, 206.29; Capps, 4.052, 313.88 def. Hight, 4.035, 314.31;
FINAL — J. Force, 4.075, 315.42 def. Capps, 4.067, 308.71.
ROUND ONE — Chris McGaha, Chevy Camaro, 6.970, 196.27 def. Erica Enders, Camaro, 7.098, 195.68; Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.974, 196.79 def. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.968, 196.99; Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.991, 196.04 def. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.969, 196.93; Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.983, 196.42 def. Fernando Cuadra, Camaro, Foul – Red Light; Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.975, 195.96 def. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, 7.178, 190.14; Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.975, 196.13 def. Will Hatcher, Dart, 15.790, 58.14; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.968, 196.67 def. Joey Grose, Camaro, Foul – Red Light; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.969, 197.02 def. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 7.017, 195.85;
QUARTERFINALS — Coughlin, 6.994, 195.87 def. Gray, 6.996, 196.27; McGaha, 6.975, 196.44 def. Kramer, 6.959, 196.96; Line, 6.983, 197.16 def. Laughlin, 6.994, 195.90; Anderson, 6.985, 197.02 def. Nobile, 6.986, 196.24;
SEMIFINALS — Anderson, 6.945, 196.27 def. Coughlin, 6.994, 195.79; Line, 6.958, 196.87 def. McGaha, 6.965, 195.79;
FINAL — Anderson, 6.943, 196.53 def. Line, 6.947, 196.19.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE:
ROUND ONE — Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 7.290, 182.26 def. Cory Reed, Buell, 7.412, 180.60; Scotty Pollacheck, Suzuki, 7.229, 181.11 def. Angie Smith, Buell, 7.276, 181.86; Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 7.265, 182.75 def. Hector Arana, Buell, 7.252, 184.85; LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 7.212, 184.55 def. Angelle Sampey, Buell, 7.296, 184.32; Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 7.199, 186.25 def. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 7.364, 180.40; Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 7.142, 188.75 def. Ryan Oehler, Buell, 7.349, 181.50; Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 7.345, 180.36 def. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 7.982, 125.40; Matt Smith, 7.194, 186.00 def. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 7.279, 182.48;
QUARTERFINALS — Stoffer, 7.347, 181.20 def. Johnson, 7.427, 180.19; Hines, 7.219, 186.18 def. Pollacheck, Foul – Red Light; Savoie, 7.274, 183.82 def. M. Smith, Broke; Arana Jr, 7.159, 188.46 def. Tonglet, 7.312, 184.37;
SEMIFINALS — Savoie, 7.284, 183.19 def. Stoffer, 7.329, 181.25; Arana Jr, 7.163, 188.15 def. Hines, 7.215, 185.31;
FINAL — Arana Jr, 7.170, 185.89 def. Savoie, Foul – Red Light.
Point standings (top 10) following the 39th annual Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway, the 14th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series –
1. Steve Torrence, 1,132; 2. Clay Millican, 959; 3. Leah Pritchett, 949; 4. Tony Schumacher, 930; 5. Doug Kalitta, 893; 6. Antron Brown, 750; 7. Terry McMillen, 696; 8. Brittany Force, 658; 9. Richie Crampton, 576; 10. Scott Palmer, 544.
1. Courtney Force, 1,156; 2. Matt Hagan, 946; 3. Ron Capps, 930; 4. Robert Hight, 911; 5. Jack Beckman, 906; 6. J.R. Todd, 832; 7. Tommy Johnson Jr., 746; 8. John Force, 735; 9. Shawn Langdon, 647; 10. Bob Tasca III, 596.
1. Greg Anderson, 1,044; 2. Tanner Gray, 976; 3. Erica Enders, 969; 4. Vincent Nobile, 947; 5. Chris McGaha, 875; 6. Drew Skillman, 842; 7. Jeg Coughlin, 838; 8. Bo Butner, 782; 9. Jason Line, 778; 10. Deric Kramer, 725.
Pro Stock Motorcycle
1. Andrew Hines, 591; 2. Eddie Krawiec, 564; 3. Hector Arana Jr, 501; 4. LE Tonglet, 493; 5.
Jerry Savoie, 481; 6. Scotty Pollacheck, 417; 7. Matt Smith, 411; 8. Angie Smith, 304; 9. (tie) Hector Arana, 289; Angelle Sampey, 289.