Dodge/SRT star NHRA Funny Car driver Matt Hagan collects coveted event prize….

After years of trying, defending world champ Matt Hagan finally picked up his first career victory at Bandimere Speedway, powering to the Funny Car win for the Dodge//SRT Mile-High NHRA Nationals presented by Pennzoil.

Steve Torrence (Top Fuel) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also won in their respective categories at the eighth race of the 2021 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season, as all three defending world champs kicked off the famed three-race NHRA Western Swing with victories.

Winning in the challenging mile-high conditions at Bandimere Speedway is something that has always eluded Hagan, but the standout came through on Sunday, going 4.105-seconds at 305.70 mph in his Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye to beat Alexis DeJoria in the final round. It capped off an incredibly fulfilling weekend for Hagan at his sponsor’s race, as he won for the first time in 2021 and 37th in his career. After qualifying No. 1, Hagan beat Chris King and Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps to reach the final round. He never trailed against DeJoria, also giving DSR its first Funny win of 2021 after the team won every race a year ago.

Matt Hagan qualified #1 and came away with his first ever victory at the fabled Mile-HIgh Nationals event.

“This mountain has chewed me up and spit me out several years in a row. I’m just so glad to pull this win out,” said Hagan, who jumped to third in points. “I’ve been trying to get this trophy for so long. It’s an important race and it’s one of those things where we finally got it done. I just cannot say enough about my team. I’m so proud of each one of them and those guys love doing what they do. My heart was beating out of my chest there in the finals. 

“It felt like I was running for a championship. When you see all these fans in the stands, it gives me chill bumps. We love Denver and we love the fans that are here. I’m glad we got it done in front of them. Every win that you can get, you’re grateful for and I’m just blessed here today.”

DeJoria advanced to her second final round this season after picking up round wins against Jack Wyatt, points leader Bob Tasca III and Tim Wilkerson.

There was no stopping Top Fuel’s Torrence in Denver, as the three-time defending champ ended Joey Haas’ upset bid by going 3.860 at 320.36 in the final round in his 11,000-horsepower Capco Contractors dragster. Haas made his first career finals appearance, but Torrence’s consistency ruled the day as he earned his fourth win in the past five races, fifth this season, and 45th in his career. 

Texan Steve Torrence continued his stranglehold within NHRA Top Fuel class racing.

Torrence, who had round wins against Rob Passey and Mike Salinas, extended his massive points lead on the strength of four runs in the mid-3.80s on Sunday, no easy feat in the rigorous conditions on Thunder Mountain.

“This is one of the most difficult places to race because everything is so much different than everywhere else we go,” Torrence said. “To have the consistency, that’s just a testament to the experience and the way (crew chiefs) Richard Hogan and Bobby Lagana race. They race really smart. Hats off to Joey Haas and that team, they did an unbelievable job today. To have the success we’ve had, it’s just a blessing. This car goes A to B, and it gives you call the confidence in the world, and it goes back to all the work these guys put in at the shop.”

Haas reached the finals for the first time thanks to victories against Alex Laughlin, who was making his Top Fuel debut, Leah Pruett, and Clay Millican.

Brittany Force was credited with the quickest run ever at Bandimere Speedway — a 3.717 seconds – but she was upset in round #2.

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Smith capped off a completely dominant weekend on Thunder Mountain by going 7.118 at 189.04 on his Denso Auto Parts/Stockseth/Matt Smith Racing EBR to beat Eddie Krawiec in the final round. Smith qualified No. 1 and made one stellar run after another, rolling to his second straight win, third in 2021, and 29th in his career. The defending world champ knocked off Cory Reed and Andrew Hines en route to the final round and rode past Krawiec in the finals to strengthen his points lead.

Defending NHRA World Champ Matt Smith collected his 3rd win of 2021 in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

“This place is hard to run at, but I love this racetrack and I was successful here in the early part of my career,” said Smith, who made the quickest run in all three qualifying sessions and three of the four rounds of eliminations this weekend. “What an awesome facility and I’m so glad to get to come out here. My bike was fast all weekend and it was just super impressive. We’ve got a tough field, so it’s always going to be tough, but this bike is on kill right now.”

To reach his first final round of the year and the 86th in his career, Krawiec knocked off Jerry Savoie, Steve Johnson, and Angie Smith.

First Time Feature!

Jose Gonzalez continued his standout season in the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series, beating back-to-back world champ Stevie “Fast” Jackson in the final round at Bandimere Speedway.

The race was the fifth event of the 2021 E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service season, and Gonzalez picked up his second straight victory and third of the season.

Caribbean native Jose Gonzalez won the first ever NHRA E3 Spark Plugs Pro Mod event held at Denver.

It was the first time the NHRA Pro Mod Series has raced at demanding high altitude Thunder Mountain facility and Gonzalez was the last man standing.

In the finals, Gonzalez went 5.972-seconds at 236.51 mph in his ProCharger-powered Q80 Camaro to slip past Jackson. It also gave Gonzalez his fifth career win as he extended his points lead in the class.

“This car couldn’t be running better,” Gonzalez said. “This team has got this car on rails and I couldn’t ask for a better car. It’s really tough going against all these great drivers and even qualifying is just a blessing.”

Gonzalez was the only driver to make a five-second run on Sunday, doing so in the final three rounds, capped off by the quickest run of his weekend in the final round.

Jackson picked up round wins against Robert Costa and Jim Whiteley to reach the final round for the third time this season and the 20th time in his career.

The E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service returns to action Aug. 18-22 as part of the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway at Brainerd, Minn.

The Lucas Oil Lowdown

As was the case with Pro Mod class cars – this edition of the Dodge/SRT Mile-High Nationals included Factory Stock Showdown cars for the first time – with 16 machines poised for the battle in the thin air racing conditions.

History will show Louisiana’s Stephen Bell as the first ever FS/XX winner at Denver – he topped Leah Pruett in a final round COPO vs DragPak battle.

The first ever Factory Stock Showdown race held in high altitude at Denver saw Stephen Bell (far lane) defeat Leah Pruett for the title.

Bell moved first and his 8.259 secs topped Leah’s 8.265 secs to win his 3rd career Factory Stock Showdown event title.

Lucas Oil Sportsman class racing included a flurry of first time winners that included : Dwayne Scheitlin (Stock), Tim Schell (Super Street), Shannon Nicolettes (Super Comp) and Darin Dolezal (Super Gas).

The Super Stock title went to Kayla Mozeris who won for the second time in her career and with that final round victory joined her father Joe Mozeris (the Comp winner) in victory lane.

The Vortech Superchargers presented TS and TD titles went to Jimmy Lewis (TS) and Kari Stark (TD).

Posted with files by NHRA Communications and Bruce Biegler