At his second NHRA event in 2023, Funny Car team owner and driver, Chris King, made two of the quickest and fastest runs of his career during qualifying at the Dodge Power Brokers NHRA Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway.
“I’m extremely excited for the progress we’re making,” said King. “Terry Totten [my crew chief] has been working his butt off at the shop to make this car right for me. And now that we’re getting down the track, it just gives me a whole new level of excitement knowing that we’re not going to go out and blow the tires off or shake my head to oblivion. We’re going to keep chipping away at it to get to that 4-second stage and we’re going to be a handful for whoever pulls up next to us.”
During round three of qualifying, King made a 4.724 second pass at 242.15 mph, both the quickest and fastest run of his career at the time, despite drifting out of the groove and clicking off early. He took what he learned in that run and then made a 4.608 second pass at 270.32 mph in the final round of qualifying, outdoing himself and setting a new personal best elapsed time and speed.
“Making two personal bests back-to-back was such a rush,” said King. “It’s those kinds of runs that keep you going, past the occasional rut. I was so proud of my guys for helping me to make that happen. I know we’ll be able to keep getting better and better.”
The Chicago-based firefighter is still getting back into the swing of things after taking the 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Season off to rebuild his car and team. As a self-made team owner, he faces the common challenges of consistency and getting time on the track.
In the first round on Sunday, at the starting line King realized it would not be safe for him to make the run against Matt Hagan, because he did not have enough CO2 in the car’s bottle, which would throw off his clutch management.
“It’s definitely a learning curve especially because we don’t have the same guys with us every week,” said King. “We had the car ready to go, and when we went to reset the cannon and get ready to fire, we recognized that we wouldn’t have been able to get on the track without major problems. It’s an oversight and we’re going to take it as a learning experience. At the end of the day, safety is what is most important.”
Despite a tough first round, the driver of the Howards Cams/Competition Products Dodge Charger Funny Car is going to look back at the Mile-High Nationals fondly. Bandimere Speedway sold out on all three days of racing, which meant King got lots of quality time with race fans.
“The reception that everybody here in Denver has had for us has been overwhelming,” said King. “Everybody’s cheering and rooting for the underdog and it’s so humbling because you know the interest is there. Overall, this weekend for us was a huge success, because we’re getting the car down the track, have it in a good spot to tune, and we have the support of the racing family behind us.”
In addition to the positive reception, the Denver race holds a special place in King’s heart because it was the first-ever NHRA event that he competed in back in 2021. Two years later, it’s now bittersweet with it being the final NHRA event at Bandimere Speedway.
“Bandimere is a great facility,” said King. “I’m going to miss coming to this beautiful location. When I made my debut here, I was paired up against Matt Hagan first round. And now we’re back and I’m paired up with Hagan again. It’s come full circle, but now we’ve figured out all our bugs. So in a way it also feels like a new beginning, where we just keep on improving.”
King is now looking forward to the Menards NHRA Nationals Presented by PetArmor in Topeka on Aug. 11-13, the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in Brainerd on Aug. 17-20 and the Dodge Power Brokers NHRA U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis on Aug. 30-Sep. 4.
“Our plans now are to go back to the shop, go through everything and make any adjustments that we discovered this weekend,” said King. “Everything we learned here in Denver is going to be 10 times better when we get back to normal elevation, so we can’t wait until Topeka.”