Denver: West Coast swing kicks off at Mile-High Nationals

MORRISON, Colo.- Summertime means the temperature is on the rise and kids are out of school and ready to hit the outdoors. It also means that the NHRA is headed toward the West Coast for three races in three weeks. The annual West Coast Swing...

MORRISON, Colo.- Summertime means the temperature is on the rise and kids are out of school and ready to hit the outdoors. It also means that the NHRA is headed toward the West Coast for three races in three weeks. The annual West Coast Swing starts in the high altitude of Colorado before moving on to picturesque Seattle, finishing the consecutive races in the heart of wine country, Sonoma, Calif.

This is not the only time the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing series has three races on three weekends, but it is the time of year when race teams start to make their dash toward the championships. Once the three races have been completed, there will be just eight events remaining on the schedule.

It also is the only time of the year when the NHRA is able to bring the largest motorsports sanctioning body to Colorado and Washington.

"I love the West Coast Swing," Skoal Racing Funny Car driver Ron Capps said. "My wife's family used to live in Denver and I love that facility. I earned my first Top Fuel win at Seattle and I am from the Bay Area and always look forward to racing in Sonoma.

"I have a lot of great memories attached to those three races and it is the part of the schedule that I relish the most. It's a great time of year to be on the West Coast."

NHRA competitors in all categories will blaze down the quarter-mile track in the western part of the country, kicking off the West Coast Swing at the 24th annual Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals, July 18-20, at Bandimere Speedway. Darrell Russell, Del Worsham, Mike Edwards and Matt Hines are the defending winners of the $1.8 million race. It is the 13th of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

The Pro Stock Bike category will be featured at two of the three West Coast events, Denver and Sonoma. Antron Brown has twice been the runner-up at the Mile-High Nationals, first in 1999 and again in 2001. Brown said the West Coast Swing marks the time of year when teams have to check their list of things to do and start producing results.

"I am so glad we get to run at two of the races, I just wish we could compete at all three events," said the rider of the Team 23 Suzuki. "All of the events on the NHRA schedule are important, but this is the time of year when you need to make your move to the championship. It is crunch time and you can either go rounds and gain a lot of points, or you can dig yourself in a big hole. This is a crucial point for everyone."

Brown said the West Coast events present an even greater challenge because of the track conditions and necessary tuneups.

"These are tuner races, they are going to have to make the right calls on every pass," Brown said. "Out of the two races we compete at during that three-week stretch, we have to use two completely different set-ups. If you can do well at these two races, you are going to be in a good position for the last six events of the Pro Stock Bike season."

Capps, a graduate of Santa Clara University in the Bay Area, likes having the races so close to home.

"I love racing on the West Coast," Capps said. "Any time you can race in front of family and friends makes it a little more exciting. The schedule also means that if you can do well at all three races, you are going to have more confidence going into the last portion of the season."

-nhra-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Antron Brown , Matt Hines , Del Worsham , Ron Capps , Mike Edwards