Denver: Pre-race notes and quotes

WHAT: 23rd annual Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals, the 13th of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. Professional competitors in four categories earn points leading to 2002 NHRA POWERade championships. Sportsman ...

WHAT: 23rd annual Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals, the 13th of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. Professional competitors in four categories earn points leading to 2002 NHRA POWERade championships.

Sportsman competitors in five categories earn points leading to 2002 NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series championships.

WHERE: Bandimere Speedway, Morrison, Colo. The track is 10 miles west of Denver just north of the historic town of Morrison. >From Denver, take Interstate 70 west to C-470 and travel south to the Morrison Road exit. Take Morrison Road west to Rooney Road and go north to the track.

MOPAR PARTS MILE-HIGH NATIONALS GENERAL INFORMATION:

SCHEDULE: Pro qualifying will run at 4:15 and 7:15 p.m. on July 19 and will continue at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on July 20. Final professional eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on July 21.

TICKETS: Tickets are available for the 23rd annual Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals. Call the Bandimere Speedway ticket office at (800) 664-UWIN or (303) 697-6001, or Ticketmaster, for ticket information. Ticket information also available at ticketmaster.com or nhra.com.

TELEVISION: ESPN will televise two hours of qualifying highlights at 7 p.m. (ET) on July 20. ESPN2 will televise three hours of eliminations at 6 p.m. (ET) on July 21.

NHRA NOTES & QUOTES
23rd annual Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals,
July 18-21, Bandimere Speedway, Morrison, Colo.

DIXON SEEKS REPEAT AND REBOUND AT DENVER: Top Fuel points leader Larry Dixon has seven wins in 10 final round appearances this season in his Miller Lite dragster, surpassing last season's total when he finished second and won six times in nine attempts. He recently tied an NHRA Top Fuel record by making his sixth straight final round appearance and putting several other NHRA records in jeopardy of being shattered. His dominant consistency had given him a 259-point lead in the standings over his rival and defending NHRA POWERade champion Kenny Bernstein and the Budweiser dragster.

Then the Miller Lite team then experienced their biggest setback of the season at St. Louis when Dixon failed to qualify. It ended a 64-race qualifying streak and it was Dixon's first DNQ since the 1999 U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis, ironically the same event where Bernstein posted his last DNQ. When Dixon failed to make the 16-car field, the door opened up for Bernstein to close the gap in the standings and it was an opportunity Bernstein seized. He went on to win the event and sliced Dixon's lead to 157, gaining more than five rounds worth of elimination points. Dixon is the defending event champion at Denver and knows this race towards the series title is far from over.

"All you have to do is look back to last year when (Funny Car driver) John Force had a 350-point lead in the middle of summer and everybody else was writing their season off," said Dixon, prior to his DNQ. "Everybody but Whit Bazemore and their team, that is. At the time, Whit wasn't even in second place so he was further back in the points and they ended up (making a run towards the championship)."

The DNQ remained optimistic following the unexpected performance at St. Louis.

"Fortunately, we still have the points lead, but we can never have too big of a lead in the standings," said the 35-year-old Dixon. "You can look at two ways. One, I would rather have it happen with us in first place than last place because we have some points we can give up. You can't afford to do this every week, but it's still okay. After all, we've made it to the finals 10 times out of 11 races. That's not too bad. I'm sure there are a lot of people who would be more than happy to trade positions with me."

TWO HINES ARE BETTER THAN ONE: Andrew Hines, the brother of three-time NHRA POWERade Pro Stock Motorcycle champion Matt Hines, will be making his professional debut at the Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals. Andrew has been a member of his sibling's crew since Matt started racing and he earned his license to compete in the two-wheel category earlier this year. After a successful test session back in June, Andrew will debut a second Vance & Hines Suzuki that is expected to compete in the remaining seven Pro Stock Motorcycle races.

MULTI-CAR TEAMS FIND SUCCESS: With the success John Force had with a two-car and now a three-car team, other team owners began to recognize the valuable information that can be obtained by having two Funny Cars and started to follow suit. It has paid off. Entering Denver, every event winner of the season and nine drivers in the Top 10 are with a multi-car team. Force Racing's three Ford Mustangs have seven wins and occupy the top three spots in the standings with Force at No. 1, Gary Densham No. 2 and Tony Pedregon at No. 3. The two Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird's owned by Chuck Worsham has Del Worsham in fourth place with two wins and teammate Johnny Gray in eighth. The Don Prudhomme-owned Skoal Chevy Camaros see recent winner Ron Capps and Tommy Johnson Jr. in the No. 7 and No. 9 slots respectively while the Don Schumacher Funny Car teams hold the middle of the standings with two-time winner Whit Bazemore in fifth and Scotty Cannon in sixth. Tim Wilkerson (No. 10) is the only driver in the Top 10 that is not on a multi-car team.

SAVOIE SEEKING THIRD STRAIGHT: Defending NHRA POWERade Pro Stock Motorcycle champion Angelle Savoie will be seeking her third straight victory at Bandimere Speedway, the site of her professional debut in 1996. If the two-time series champ does visit the winner's circle for the third straight season, she will tie rival Matt Hines and the late six-time NHRA champion Dave Schultz for motorcycle victories at Bandimere. Hines also won his three in succession (1996-'98).

KALITTA THREE-PEAT: Top Fuel driver Doug Kalitta is seeking his first victory in more than a year in his Mac Tools dragster. His last win came at St. Louis in 2001 when he defeated Kenny Bernstein. If Kalitta were to win the Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals, he would become the third Kalitta to win at Bandimere Speedway. His uncle Connie won twice (1984-85), as did his cousin Scott (1994-95). Kalitta has won at least one event a year beginning with his rookie season in 1998.

-nhra-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Matt Hines , Kenny Bernstein , Tony Pedregon , Del Worsham , Whit Bazemore , Ron Capps , John Force , Doug Kalitta , Gary Densham , Scotty Cannon , Don Prudhomme , Tim Wilkerson , Johnny Gray , Andrew Hines , Chuck Worsham , Don Schumacher , Tommy Johnson Jr.