Sunday at the 43rd and final running of the Dodge Power Brokers NHRA Mile-High Nationals, John Force in the PEAK Antifreeze and Coolant Chevrolet Camaro SS and Robert Hight in the Cornwell Quality Tools / AAA Chevy Camaro SS had quarterfinal exits while in Top Fuel Brittany Force in the Monster Energy / Flav-R-Pac dragster and Austin Prock in the Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist dragster made first-round exits.
John Force and the PEAK Chevy pulled off a first-round victory over Steven Densham, son of veteran racer Gary Densham. Steven would have the slight advantage on the starting line but Force would take the lead before the 60 ft. mark and never trailed for a 4.026-second pass at 320.20 mph that bettered Densham’s 4.731 at 180.62. In the second round, Force and the PEAK Camaro’s 4.073 at 304.12 wouldn’t be enough for J.R. Todd’s 4.037 at 320.05, ending the 16-time world champion and eight-time Mile-High Nationals event winner’s last race day at Bandimere Speedway.
“I’ve said it’s not over until Bandimere says it’s over. But if this really is the last race at Bandimere Speedway, the fans really showed them how much this place means. The Bandimere family built a wonderful facility here on God’s Mountain. All the racers love this place. The next place where I hope we end up, I can’t wait and I just want to wish the best of luck,” Force said. “I’m disappointed we couldn’t get his PEAK Chevy in the winner’s circle, that we didn’t do better but I know we’ve got to get ready for the rest of the Western Swing, Seattle is next, the Flav-R-Pac Northwest Nationals, looking forward to it.”
Making his 400th event start, Robert Hight and the Cornwell Tools Chevy picked up a first-round win with a 4.086-second pass at 305.91 mph, defeating Alex Laughlin’s 4.596 at 212.19 after he had to shut off early. The win lined him up with reigning world champion Ron Capps in the quarterfinals. Hight would have to pedal his way to a 4.931 pass at 178.64 that just wasn’t enough for Capps’ 4.066 at 314.61.
“Not the way this Cornwell team wanted to say goodbye to Bandimere Speedway, but fans made it special. Selling this place out, packing the grandstands, that was something to see. It’s a testament to what the Bandimere family built here,” Hight said. “Wish we could have had a better last memory here, but we’ve had some good ones. Now it’s time to put our heads down and get focused for Seattle.”
Brittany Force and the Monster Energy / Flav-R-Pac team will leave their mark in the history book at Bandimere Speedway as the track record holders for both speed and elapsed time after their 337.33 mph run on Saturday evening and 3.717-second pass from 2021. Their attempt to leave the track as the last event winners at the fan-favorite and historic track came to an end in the first round when the Monster Energy dragster put cylinders out and shut off early to cross the finish line at 5.080 seconds and 141.62 mph falling short to Rob Passey’s 4.128 at 280.19.
“It’s heartbreaking that Bandimere Speedway is closing down and that this was the final national event. Our Monster Energy / Flav-R-Pac team came in strong, set the track record speed, and went to that No. 1 spot. We felt confident coming into race day but it just wasn’t our day. We got taken out early but we did get to enjoy the fans and watch some drag racing together as a team,” Force said. “It’s the beginning of our Western Swing, we go to three right in a row so there’s two more in it, which we love. So luckily for us, we get right back to it in just a couple of days.”
Austin Prock and the Montana Brand dragster team had a solid race against Mike Salinas in the first round. Unfortunately, the Montana Brand machine wouldn’t have enough with a 3.912-second pass at 313.51 mph to be outrun by Salinas’ 3.850 at 320.13.
“Definitely not the way this Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist team wanted or thought this morning was going to go,” Prock said. “We’re disappointed, adds to the sting that it’s the last one here on the Mountain. Going to miss Bandimere Speedway but for now, our team has to put this weekend behind us and move on to Seattle and hopefully get the job done for Frank Tiegs at his Flav-R-Pac race.”
The NHRA Western Swing continues in Seattle with the Flav-R-Pac NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways July 21-23 before concluding at the DENSO NHRA Sonoma Nationals at Sonoma Raceway July 28-30.