MORRISON, Colo. — As the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series readies to kick off the grueling three-race Western Swing, Top Fuel point leader Spencer Massey feels as confident in his FRAM/Prestone Top Fuel team as ever. The team heads to Bandimere Speedway for the 33rd annual Mopar Mile High NHRA Nationals coming off their fourth win in five final round appearances, something no other Top Fuel team can say they’ve accomplished this season.
“It’s great to have the win in our pocket with the Swing coming up, we’re going into the Swing with a win so I like that and we hope to build some momentum,” Massey said.
Not only is Massey coming off his fourth win of the season, he enters the Mopar Mile High NHRA Nationals as the defending event champion, another confidence boost for the points leader as the NHRA heads to one of the toughest races of the season for the teams thanks to the unique atmosphere in the mountains of Colorado.
“It’ll be tough racing in the altitude but it’s when the crew chiefs shine and hopefully mine can do it again this year,” Massey said. “Plus it’s an awesome track and I love the town. The racing views are beautiful; I can’t wait to get there.”
Last season, Massey took out his DSR teammate and seven-time champ Tony Schumacher in the final round at Bandimere Speedway, the same driver he took the point lead away from with his win at the most recent NHRA event.
“If we can repeat that final round that would be awesome,” Massey said. “I know Tony and I race each other a lot and we’re really competitive with each other but we’re just like every other driver, we just want to win. It doesn’t matter if it’s my teammates or any other team I just want to win. Bottom line, I don’t care who I’m racing I just want to win.”
John Force (Funny Car), Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) and Karen Stoffer (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were also 2011 winners of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event that will be televised on ESPN2HD.
Schumacher is one of seven drivers to ever sweep the elusive Western Swing and he did it in 2008. His DSR teammate Antron Brown, who sits third in the point standings, did it in 2009. If Massey is able to put together a winning streak and become the eighth driver to sweep the Swing, it would not only add his name to the NHRA history books, but it will give his team the confidence it needs heading into the NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship, NHRA’s playoffs.
“Coming off the win and being the defending event champ helps our confidence and obviously we’d like to do that thing with the broom and win them all but I don’t want to jinx ourselves either,” Massey said. “To do that means we’d have to put together four in a row. Not saying we can’t do it but it’ll be tough.”
Not only is the Western Swing important for the history books, it’s important for teams hoping to qualify for the Countdown. With just five races left in the regular season, Massey and all the other teams in the top 10 are fighting for that top spot.
“It would be awesome to be able to be successful in the Western Swing simply for the fact that we want as many round wins, race wins and points as we can get,” Massey said. “We want to be No. 1 in points when the Countdown starts to get the 20 points bonus especially with how we lost the championship last year by a few points to Del Worsham, it just proved that all the little points are extremely important.”
The teams at the top may be fighting for the points lead but the teams near the bottom of the top 10 and those sitting just outside it will fight even harder to secure a spot in the Countdown including Clay Millican and Bob Vandergriff, who are both fighting for their first berth to the Countdown and are currently tied for the 10th and final spot. Terry McMillen sits 12th, on the outside looking in, also hoping for his first time in the Countdown, as does rookie and Al-Anabi pilot Khalid alBalooshi, who is in 13th, still looking for his first round win of the season.
Funny Car competition for the Countdown also will kick into high gear as the NHRA heads to Bandimere. Point leader Robert Hight looks to hold onto his lead through the final five races of the regular season but his JFR teammate Mike Neff and DSR competitor Ron Capps hope to take that lead away from him. The biggest shocker of the season is reigning Funny Car world champ Matt Hagan, who sits in 13th behind rookie Alexis DeJoria and veteran Tim Wilkerson who are all fighting to earn a spot in the top 10. A little over 100 points separate sixth place from 11th which means the next five races are imperative for those teams who want to make the Countdown.
The story is the same in both Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle as respective points leaders Greg Anderson and Eddie Krawiec look to maintain their leads but the drivers behind them are working to take that lead away for the lucrative 20-point bonus. Four-time Pro Stock champ Jeg Coughlin sits in 11th in Pro Stock, just four points out of 10th, with Larry Morgan and Kurt Johnson on his tail hoping to gain momentum starting at Bandimere. Veteran Steve Johnson is working to make the Countdown in Pro Stock Motorcycle while rookie John Hall is right behind him, hoping to make his first playoff appearance.
* SCHEDULE: NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series qualifying sessions are scheduled for 4:45 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. on Friday, July 20, and 12:45 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. on Saturday, July 21. Final eliminations will begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday, July 22.
* TICKETS: For tickets for the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals, please call Bandimere Speedway at (800) 664-UWIN or log on to www.ticketreturn.com.
* ON TV: ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise two hours of qualifying coverage at 5 p.m. (ET) on Saturday, July 21, and two hours of eliminations coverage at 7 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, July 22.
* LUCAS OIL SERIES: The Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals will feature competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, where the future stars of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series are born. Lucas Oil Series qualifying begins at noon on July 20; eliminations begin at 9 a.m. on July 21 and continue through July 22.
* ON THE WEB: Get live timing, scoring, multimedia and the latest news updates from every NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event on the Internet at www.nhra.com. Visit the official NHRA pages on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
MOPAR MILE-HIGH NHRA NATIONALS FACT SHEET
WHAT: 33rd annual Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals, the 13th of 23 events in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. Drivers in four categories - Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle - earn points leading to 2012 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series world championships.
WHERE: Bandimere Speedway, Morrison, Colo. The track is 10 miles west of Denver, just north of the historic town of Morrison. From Denver, take Interstate 70 west to C-470 and travel south to the Morrison Road exit. Take Morrison Road west to Rooney Road and go north to the track.
WHEN: Friday through Sunday, July 20-22.
FRIDAY, July 20 - LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying at noon
FULL THROTTLE SERIES qualifying at 4:45 p.m. and 7:15 p.m.
SATURDAY, July 21 - LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations begin at 9 a.m.
FULL THROTTLE SERIES qualifying at 12:45 p.m. and 3:15 p.m.
SUNDAY, July 22 - Pre-race ceremonies, 10:15 a.m.
FULL THROTTLE SERIES eliminations begin at 11 a.m.
Saturday, July 21, ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise two hours of qualifying coverage at 5 p.m. (ET).
Sunday, July 22, ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise two hours of eliminations coverage starting at 7 p.m. (ET).
SATELLITE (Digital HD feed):
Saturday, July 21, Midnight - 12:30 a.m. (ET), AMC 9 / Transponder 14C
Saturday, July 21, 7:30 - 8 p.m. (ET), AMC 9 / Transponder 14C
Sunday, July 22, 8:30- 9 p.m. (ET), AMC 9 / Transponder 14C
(3980 MHz, vertical; Data Rate: 40.461470554 Mbp; Symbol Rate: 29.27 Ms; FEC: ¾; Bandwidth: 36 Mhz)
Video news release contains race action highlights each day and winners’ interviews on Sunday.
2011 EVENT WINNERS: Spencer Massey, Top Fuel; John Force, Funny Car; Mike Edwards, Pro Stock; Karen Stoffer, Pro Stock Motorcycle.
MOST VICTORIES: Bob Glidden, 7, PS; Joe Amato, 6, TF; John Force, 6, FC; Warren Johnson, 5, PS.
Top Fuel – 3.862 seconds by Antron Brown, July ’09; 318.39 mph by Brown, July ’09.
Funny Car – 4.095 seconds by Cruz Pedregon, July ’11; 307.51 mph by Pedregon, July ’11.
Pro Stock – 6.955 seconds by Allen Johnson, July ’11; 198.64 mph by Johnson, July ’10.
PS Motorcycle – 7.238 seconds by Michael Phillips, July ’10; 186.54 mph by Ryan Schnitz, July ’05.
Top Fuel - 3.735 sec. by Del Worsham, Oct. ’11, Reading, Pa.; 332.18 mph by Spencer Massey, April ’12, Charlotte, N.C.
Funny Car - 3.995 sec. by Matt Hagan, Sept. ’11, Charlotte, N.C.; 318.99 mph by Jack Beckman, Sept. ’11, Charlotte, N.C.
Pro Stock - 6.477 sec. by Jason Line, Oct. ’11, Reading, Pa.; 213.91 mph by Jason Line, April ’12, Charlotte, N.C.
PS Motorcycle - 6.750 sec. by Eddie Krawiec, March ’12, Gainesville, Fla.; 199.26 mph by Eddie Krawiec, March ’11, Gainesville, Fla.
TICKETS: Order tickets by phone at (800) 664-UWIN. Tickets also are available online at www.ticketreturn.com.
NHRA FULL THROTTLE DRAG RACING SERIES WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS
GLENDORA, Calif. -- Point standings (top 10) following the 12th of 23 events in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series -
Top Fuel: 1. Spencer Massey, 984; 2. Tony Schumacher, 955; 3. Antron Brown, 941; 4. Steve Torrence, 877; 5. Morgan Lucas, 729; 6. Doug Kalitta, 684; 7. Shawn Langdon, 650; 8. David Grubnic, 593; 9. Brandon Bernstein, 567; 10. (tie) Clay Millican, 514; Bob Vandergriff, 514.
Funny Car: 1. Robert Hight, 1,001; 2. Ron Capps, 914; 3. Mike Neff, 807; 4. Jack Beckman, 738; 5. Johnny Gray, 729; 6. Bob Tasca III, 623; 7. Cruz Pedregon, 622; 8. (tie) Jeff Arend, 608; Courtney Force, 608; 10. John Force, 569.
Pro Stock: 1. Greg Anderson, 1,033; 2. Jason Line, 998; 3. Allen Johnson, 974; 4. Mike Edwards, 835; 5. Vincent Nobile, 810; 6. Erica Enders, 728; 7. Ronnie Humphrey, 550; 8. Shane Gray, 498; 9. Rodger Brogdon, 492; 10. Ron Krisher, 437.
Pro Stock Motorcycle: 1. Eddie Krawiec, 597; 2. Andrew Hines, 571; 3. Hector Arana Jr, 484; 4. Hector Arana, 467; 5. LE Tonglet, 326; 6. Karen Stoffer, 324; 7. Michael Ray, 302; 8. Scotty Pollacheck, 277; 9. Matt Smith, 274; 10. Shawn Gann, 253.