NHRA Mile High Nationals

Words and Pictures by Kevin Cooley

The fourteenth national event on the NHRA calendar made its annual stop at Bandimere Speedway. The July date means daytime temperatures in the ninety degree range and afternoon thunder storms that are sure to delay the nitro qualifying sessions into the cool Colorado evenings. John Force took advantage of the conditions in the first qualifying session when he powered the Peak Antifreeze Funny Car to the first three second funny car pass on the mountain. Courtney Force followed suit and lowered the track ET record to a terrific 3.91, securing the number one slot on the race day ladder.

TRAXXAS sponsored Funny Car pilot Courtney Force set low ET and a new track record in Q1.

TRAXXAS sponsored Funny Car pilot Courtney Force set low ET and a new track record in Q1.

Defending event champ Jack Beckman battled mid-track wheelies in Q1 & 2 but got the car settled down in the final session for a sixth place qualifying slot.

Defending event champ Jack Beckman battled mid-track wheelies in Q1 & 2 but got the car settled down in the final session for a sixth place qualifying slot.

Matt Hagen qualified seventh but his weekend ended in round two.

Matt Hagen qualified seventh but his weekend ended in round two.

At the stripe it appeared Robert had taken out the number one qualifier but he had left the line too early setting up a daughter vs father final.

At the stripe it appeared Robert had taken out the number one qualifier but he had left the line too early setting up a daughter vs father final.

Team Force continued to flex some mile-high muscle with all three cars making the quarter finals. John took out Del Worsham’s track speed record holding DHL hotrod and Robert Height red lighted against Courtney. In the final round, father John left slightly ahead of Courtney and held the advantage to the 1000-foot mark earning another Wally for the popular driver.

In the final round number one and two qualifiers met with father leaving the line ever so slightly ahead of his daughter to capture the event win.

In the final round number one and two qualifiers met with father leaving the line ever so slightly ahead of his daughter to capture the event win.

Throughout the season NHRA has been honoring the fiftieth anniversary of the funny car. Ross Howard brought his excellently restored Phil Castronovo Custom Body Challenger to the Mopar sponsored event.

Throughout the season NHRA has been honoring the fiftieth anniversary of the funny car. Ross Howard brought his excellently restored Phil Castronovo Custom Body Challenger to the Mopar sponsored event.

In the Top Fuel category defending event champion Steve Torrence picked up where he left off by dominating qualifying and securing the top spot on the ladder. Torrence’s first round match up with legendary fuel racer Chris Karamesines went as planned but his round two lead over number nine qualifier Tony Schumacher went away in a ball of fire.

In round two the CAPCO CONTRACTORS car torched the engine and bowed out to eventual winner Tony Schumacher.Throughout the season NHRA has been honoring the fiftieth anniversary of the funny car. Ross Howard brought his excellently restored Phil Castronovo Custom Body Challenger to the Mopar sponsored event.

In round two the CAPCO CONTRACTORS car torched the engine and bowed out to eventual winner Tony Schumacher.Throughout the season NHRA has been honoring the fiftieth anniversary of the funny car. Ross Howard brought his excellently restored Phil Castronovo Custom Body Challenger to the Mopar sponsored event.

Antron Brown defeated JR Todd in his semifinal match to set up a Team Schumacher final.

Antron Brown defeated JR Todd in his semifinal match to set up a Team Schumacher final.

A stoic Tony Schumacher earned a trip to Victory Lane for the first time in 2016.

A stoic Tony Schumacher earned a trip to Victory Lane for the first time in 2016.

Tony Schumacher defeated Clay Millican in the semifinal and Antron Brown won over the Kallitta car of JR Todd.  In the final pairing Antron had lane choice by a mere one hundredth of a second but the Army sponsored car with Tony at the wheel laid down a 3.80 second ET to capture their first event win of the 2016 season.

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