Hagan, Torrence and Matt Smith take victories in Mile High Nationals

NHRA returned to action this past weekend at Bandimere Speedway in Colorado for the Mile High Nationals and we saw former champions in the winner circle following Sunday’s on-track action.

Last year’s champions in Funny Car, Top Fuel and Pro Stock Motorcycle all claimed their respective class victories. Matt Hagan finally earned his elusive win of the season in Funny Car. Steve Torrence continued his Top Fuel dominance by scoring his fifth victory and Matt Smith collected his third Wally of 2021, his first since Atlanta.

Funny Car

Matt Hagan had not won yet this season through the first seven races after being dominant in the Funny Car category last year. The Don Schumacher Racing driver earned his 42nd No. 1 qualifier Saturday night after posting an E.T. of 3.966 and 319.22 mph during Friday’s session which paired him with No. 14 qualifier Chris King in the first round.

King was a Funny Car newcomer but was eliminated by Hagan after Hagan won with a time of 4.045 seconds and 317.49 mph that helped him have a bye run in the second round. Hagan easily advanced to the semis facing his Don Schumacher teammate Ron Capps. Hagan roared to a time of 4.022 seconds and 314.53 mph to face Alexis DeJoria in the finals.

The final for DeJoria was her first since returning to the sport a couple of years ago. DeJoria scored victories over Jack Wyatt, championship points leader Bob Tasca and a tire-smoking Tim Wilkerson in the semis to face off against Hagan.

When the two fired off the starting line, it was Hagan who outraced DeJoria to his 37th career victory by setting the E.T. of 4.105 seconds and 305.70 mph.

“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.”

For DeJoria, Sunday was solid for her, but the second-place finish would be her first runner-up of the season and the fourth runner-up of her career.

“This is definitely the best race weekend I have ever had at Bandimere Speedway,” said DeJoria. “We qualified No. 2.  We had a pretty consistent car during eliminations and we made it to my team’s first final round since I came back into the sport last year. We are just so hungry. We have had so many semifinals leading up to this. We have had great success in qualifying. We were just missing those final rounds. Now that we have tasted it we are going to have more of these. It is just a matter of time and I know I keep saying that but it is true.”

“In the final round we dropped cylinders right at the start,” said DeJoria. “My car was down on power. I saw Hagan move ahead and I was on his tail the whole way down. If he slipped up at all we had him. It is just one of those things. We are going to go to Sonoma with our heads held high.”

Funny Car Results

  1. Matt Hagan
  2. Alexis DeJoria
  3. Ron Capps
  4. Tim Wilkerson
  5. John Force
  6. Bob Tasca III
  7. Paul Lee
  8. Jack Wyatt
  9. Terry Haddock
  10. Cruz Pedregon
  11. Robert Hight
  12. Jim Campbell
  13. Chris King
  14. J.R. Todd

Funny Car Championship Point Standings

  1. Bob Tasca, 643 points
  2. John Force, 593
  3. Matt Hagan, 558
  4. J.R. Todd, 532
  5. Ron Capps, 529
  6. Robert Hight, 517
  7. Alexis DeJoria, 498
  8. Tim Wilkerson, 477
  9. Cruz Pedregon, 450
  10. Terry Haddock, 274

Top Fuel

Top Fuel was certainly the most interesting class of the afternoon. There were two “new” drivers in the category. Former Pro Stock driver Alex Laughlin was making his Top Fuel debut this weekend while Top Fuel and Funny Car nostalgia driver, Joey Haas, also made his debut.

Meanwhile, Colorado local, Greg Carrillo, defeated Antron Brown in the first round going 3.860 seconds and 316.23 mph to win over Brown.

However, when the action all was said and done, Steve Torrence was standing with his head held high for his fifth victory of the 2021 season.

Torrence qualified second and faced Rob Passey in the first round. Torrence got the victory over Passey in Round 1, a bye run in the second and a semi-final win over Mike Salinas that propelled him to the finals.

The debuting Joey Haas also was solid through his rounds with victories over Alex Laughlin and an upset over Leah Pruett in Round 2. He then coasted to a victory in the semis after Clay Millican’s car shut off leaving the staging lanes.

As Torrence and Haas left the lanes, Steve Torrence easily won over Haas posting an E.T. of 3.860 seconds and 320.36 mph to win the 45th victory of his career.

“I was pulling for him all day,” said the three-time reigning World Champion, “and I know there were a lot of people hoping he could get past us in the final. That’s a guy with a lot of heart and I hope I get to race him a lot more. I have complete respect for that whole (Terry) Totten team. It was fun to watch them.

“But these Capco Boys are just so bad to the bone,” Torrence continued. “Those guys were having one of those races where it’s just your day and, after they got past Clay (Millican), I was a little concerned. But Richard Hogan and Bobby Lagana, my whole team, they just did what they do and fortunately, I was able to do my job, too.”

Top Fuel Results

  1. Steve Torrence
  2. Joey Haas
  3. Mike Salinas
  4. Clay Millican
  5. Brittany Force
  6. Greg Carrilo
  7. Leah Pruett
  8. Shawn Langdon
  9. Antron Brown
  10. Buddy Hull
  11. Rob Passey
  12. Doug Kalitta
  13. Alex Laughlin

Top Fuel Championship Point Standings

  1. Steve Torrence, 858 points
  2. Antron Brown, 551
  3. Brittany Force, 505
  4. Billy Torrence, 448
  5. Shawn Langdon, 418
  6. Mike Salinas, 395
  7. Doug Kalitta, 367
  8. Leah Pruett, 362
  9. Justin Ashley, 337
  10. Clay Millican, 328

Pro Stock Motorcycle

No. 1 qualifier Matt Smith earned his third win and the 29th victory of his career Sunday afternoon after eliminating Eddie Krawiec. Matt Smith won with a time of 7.118 seconds and 189.04 mph in the final round to secure the victory.

“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.”

It was an easy start for Smith as he had a bye run in the first round which got him to the second round. Smith then won over Cory Reed in the second round going 7.147 seconds and 189.26 mph. A victory over Andrew Hines in the semis got him to the finals.

Krawiec qualified sixth with a time of 7.182 seconds and 189.18 mph and faced Jerry Savoie in the first round. He won with a time of 7.150 seconds and 185.15 mph. Krawiec then faced Charlotte winner Steve Johnson in the second round and won with a time of 7.166 seconds and 189.73 mph to advance to the semis.

In the semis, Krawiec got a victory over Angie Smith after Smith fouled on the Christmas tree.

When the two Pro Stock Motorcycles raced down the track, Krawiec obtained his first runner-up of the season with Matt Smith getting the win.

Pro Stock Motorcycle Results

  1. Matt Smith
  2. Eddie Krawiec
  3. Andrew Hines
  4. Angie Smith
  5. Steve Johnson
  6. Cory Reed
  7. Angelle Sampey
  8. Karen Stoffer
  9. Joey Gladstone
  10. Scotty Pollacheck
  11. Jerry Savoie
  12. Ryan Oehler
  13. David Barron
  14. Jianna Salinas
  15. Jim Underdahl

Pro Stock Motorcycle Championship Standings

  1. Matt Smith, 626 points
  2. Steve Johnson, 463
  3. Scotty Pollacheck, 381
  4. Ryan Oehler, 377
  5. Angelle Sampey, 318
  6. Angie Smith, 315
  7. Eddie Krawiec, 300
  8. Joey Gladstone, 288
  9. Karen Stoffer, 278
  10. Cory Reed, 270

Up Next: The NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series will continue to head west to visit Sonoma Raceway on July 23-25, live on NHRA.TV (with a subscription) and FOX networks.



The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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