Drag racing’s highest altitude national event race included some very well timed and rewarding victories….

That parade was led by Leah Pritchett, who put the cherry on top of a dream weekend during the Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals Powered by Mopar, flying her Mopar Dodge 1320 “Angry Bee” Top Fuel dragster from the No. 1 spot to her first win at historic Bandimere Speedway.

Her victory came in the first year with Dodge//SRT as headline sponsor and in the 30th consecutive season of FCA US event title sponsorship at the track near Denver.

The victory was Pritchett’s second of the year in three final rounds this season, the seventh overall of her career, and moved the Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) driver to third in the point standings. The Wally trophy was also the eighth of the season for a DSR Mopar Dodge driver in the NHRA Nitro classes.

Leah Pritchett thrilled the event sponsors Dodge and Mopar with a convincing wire-to-wire victory at NHRA Denver.

Pritchett also carried a special 1320-themed livery on her Mopar Dodge Top Fuel dragster to help mark the unveiling of the new Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack 1320, geared for grassroots Sportsman racers, and revealed with help from Pritchett during a press conference on Thursday, July 19.

Pritchett’s Denver domination began in qualifying, where she knocked out a 3.799-second elapsed time (ET) at 327.19 mph, the fastest ever at Bandimere Speedway, to lock down the pole, her second straight of the season and second consecutive at Bandimere. Pritchett also collected 11 out of 12 possible qualifying points.

The Mopar Dodge 1320 driver opened eliminations with a steady 3.857/322.81 to outrun Terry Totten, and then unleashed the “Angry Bee” to the tune of 3.806/321.96, the quickest of the round, to send home Scott Palmer. Pritchett ran a 3.826/312.93 in the semifinals, matched by her opponent Clay Millican’s identical 3.826 ET, but Pritchett’s sharper .043 reaction time earned her the starting line advantage and the round win.

In her second consecutive final-round appearance at Denver and 11th overall of her career, Pritchett trailed briefly against Doug Kalitta but quickly put her Mopar Dodge 1320 in the lead and never looked back, laying down a HEMI-powered 3.831/316.45 pass to Kalitta’s losing 3.852/319.82 effort.

“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.”

Professional racing title wins also included a victory in fuel Funny Car courtesy of drag racing living legend John Force. Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana Jr (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also had important scores during the first leg of NHRA annual 3-race mid-summer Western Swing.

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.”

Living legend John Force notched his 149th career NHRA fuel Funny Car title.

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.

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.

Greg Anderson snapped a lengthly winless streak when he prevailed in Pro Stock with his Chevy Camaro.

“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.

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.

Riding for his sponsor Lucas Oil – Hector Arana Jr was the winner in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

“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 Lucas Oil Lowdown

David Hutchens and Brian Percival of Lakewood, Colo., celebrated with their teams in winner’s circle during the closing of the Dodge Mile High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway.
Hutchens worked his way through the field to meet Percival in the Super Comp final round. Both runners triggered great lights at the line, but Hutchens’ was better; .002 seconds earning him his first national event Wally trophy at his very first national event. Hutchens ran 9.453 seconds, 174.48 mph; Percival followed up at 9.413 seconds, 160.16 mph.
Percival was not finished. In the Super Street final round, he triggered a great light of .009 seconds. And he didn’t look back running 11.515 seconds, 134.74 mph in his Dodge Dart to defeat fellow Colorado racer Michael Condon of Aurora. Condon came in second at 11.488 seconds, 127.90 mph.
Greg Lair, Canyon, Texas, scored his 3rd national event victory, running 7.028 seconds, 189.28 mph to outlast Monte Green, Haxtun, Colo., in the Top Sportsman presented by RacingRVs final round. Rick Milinazzo, went one for one his first national event, eliminating fellow Colorado racer Josh Herman of Pueblo; earning his first national event title. Milinazzo recorded a victory pass of 7.480 seconds, 163.35 mph.
The other drivers visiting the winner’s circle were Don Thomas in Comp Eliminator, Chris Chaney in Super Stock, Drew Skillman in Stock, and Michael Miller in Super Gas.

Pro Stock racer Drew Skillman drove his Ford Mustang to victory in Stock eliminator. (DRC file photo)

Posted with files by Darren Jacobs, NHRA Communications and Bruce Biegler
Photos courtesy of NHRA and Auto Imagery