Compiled by SEMA Editors
JOHNSON CONTINUES DOMINANCE OF DENVER; TODD, HIGHT AND HINES ALSO WIN: Allen Johnson in his Team Mopar Dodge Dart continued his dominance of Bandimere Speedway when he recordered his sixth win at the track in his eighth consecutive final-round appearance. J.R. Todd (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also took home wins at the event. Johnson defeated his teammate Jeg Coughlin in the finals to win at his sponsor’s event.
"This team just continues to find a way to do it," said Johnson. "We want to win here for Mopar. My guys step up, I step up when I need to. It is just a confidence thing, it’s a want-to thing; it is deep in our gut, and we just keep doing it."
MOPAR EXTENDS TITLE RIGHTS SPONSORSHIP OF DENVER EVENT: MOPAR has agreed to a three-year extension of its title rights sponsorship of the NHRA Mile-High Nationals at scenic Bandimere Speedway near Denver. Mopar’s title sponsorship of this tradition-rich event began in 1989 and is the longest-running NHRA event sponsorship in history. The event, which presents unique challenges to NHRA teams due to its high altitude and warm summer temperatures, has long been the traditional kick-off of the famed three-race NHRA Western Swing.
"The MOPAR Mile-High NHRA Nationals is the flagship event for our brand, our fans and our customers, and this agreement reinforces our commitment to our ‘home track,’ Bandimere Speedway, and to NHRA drag racing," said Pietro Gorlier, president and CEO of MOPAR, Chrysler Group’s service, parts and customer-care brand. "Together, we have made the annual visit to Thunder Mountain an iconic stop on the NHRA schedule."
MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES RETURNS TO SONOMA WINE COUNTRY: The stars of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series will battle in the luscious Wine Country region of Northern California, as they head to the second stop of the Western Swing, for the 15th race of the 2014 season at the 27th annual NHRA Sonoma Nationals. The best in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle will all compete for Wally trophies at the world-renowned track located just north of San Francisco. Shawn Langdon (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car), Vincent Nobile (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana Jr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the event that will once again be televised nationally on ESPN and ESPN2. Langdon grew up racing at the track and turned in a brilliant performance a year ago when he knocked off Morgan Lucas in the final round. Those good memories have Langdon excited to return.
"Some tracks you just feel better going to," Langdon said. "But once you’re in the car it doesn’t matter where you’re at. I’m automatically in race mode, so it’s more about the excitement leading up to the event. There’s a lot of excitement for me and, of course, you’ll have lots of friends and family there."
He Said, She Said
"These things are so hard to come by. That’s why I’m so happy to have the opportunity to drive for the Kalitta team. I figured it was the best opportunity I’d have to win again. I’m pretty hard on myself and I felt like there were a few races lately that got away from us. The only thing that was missing here is Conrad [Kalitta, team owner]. He only stays home from one race and it’s this one because the heat and the altitude is hard on him. It was just nice to get a win for these guys so hopefully they feel like they made the right decision by hiring me. I’m kind of a small guy so I’m glad I wasn’t a part of that big pile on the starting line. If I was there, I probably would have just jumped on top. I’m pretty solid now, but I want a cushion. I want to make the Countdown because after that, anything can happen."
—Top Fuel racer J.R. Todd on winning his first Top Fuel race since Dallas in the 2008 season and escaping the ensuing Kalitta Racing mosh pit at the starting line. With the win, he moved to eighth in points with four races remaining to earn points for the Countdown to the Championship.
Inside the Numbers
7: The number of racers that have clinched a berth into the Countdown to the Championship—the six-race playoffs that decides the season-long championships in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. In Top Fuel, Doug Kalitta and Antron Brown were the first two racers to secure their positions in the Countdown. Robert Hight in Funny Car and Erica Enders-Stevens in Pro Stock have also punched their tickets into the playoffs. In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Andrew Hines, Eddie Krawiec and Hector Arana Jr. were the first three racers in the two-wheel category to gain a spot in the Countdown. There are four races remaining for racers to earn points into the Countdown to the Championship, which will kick off at the NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway, September 12–14.
Did You Know
ENDERS-STEVENS TO SKIP SONOMA, SEATTLE RACES: Pro Stock points leader Erica Enders-Stevens will skip the NHRA national events in Sonoma, California, and Seattle in order to better prepare for the rapidly approaching NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship, Elite Motorsports team owner Richard Freeman announced last Sunday at Bandimere Speedway. Enders-Stevens has led the points since March, making her the most prolific racer in the pro classes this season. She has already secured a spot in the Countdown playoffs.
"The guys will have this Camaro ready to win Brainerd and Indy and all six races in the Countdown. I don't believe this will affect our plan of attack at all. It's a team decision and obviously every decision Richard (Freeman) has made this year has worked out perfectly, so we'll go home and prepare for Brainerd."
View the complete 2014 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.