If your primary sponsor and partner is putting on event, it's a great idea for your teams to perform and even show off a bit. For Dodge, that's exactly what Matt Hagan and Leah Pruett did on Friday earning the provisional top spots after the first 2 of 4 qualifying passes.
After an unsuccessful first pass, Pruett surprised by rocketing to the top spot
after her second run with a great pass of 3.788.
“This is extremely cool. I mean, you always believe it can happen,” said Pruett. “[Matt and I] said it all week. You have to be positive, and we talk about simultaneously parking our cars in winner’s circle and then we came out in Q1 and that was a gut punch. We were so wildly far off. That’s’ exactly what happened. Then Dickie came over and we put our faith in a lot of little changes.
“We were not trying to go No. 1. We were trying to establish a baseline,” Pruett said. “For us both to hold on to our No. 1 is a cool feeling, especially at our Dodge race. I’m so incredibly happy right now.”
Hagan, who is the defending winner at Bandimere also landed the top spot after having the top speed in both of Friday's passes. With runs of 3.927 and 3.968 he was the the class of the field through both qualifying attempts.
“This mountain air is hard on these motors and hard on this fat kid in the driver’s seat,” said Hagan. “It takes me a while to get acclimated to this place. With the race car, we have to stay ahead of it. We have a good combination from last year and we just brought it off the shelf and made two strong runs in a row. We didn’t just come out and back into it into for one run.
“For everything we’ve done this year with TSR, I had a good feeling coming into this deal. I don’t know about weather for tomorrow, but if conditions are the same, we could go better. Nothing is said and done until tomorrow.”
In Pro Stock, it was Aaron Stanfield who grabbed the top spot with two great runs of 6.978 and 6.946. It is Stanfield's first visit in a Pro Stock car to Bandimere and he made the most of it in every way.
“This is definitely a confidence booster,” said Stanfield. “I know I’ve got a fast hot rod. This is the first time I’ve raced Pro Stock on the mountain and those gear's come really quick. I can’t thank my guys enough. We’re having a ball.
“The first three gears come up so quickly, this is different than anywhere else we race,” Stanfield added. “Thankfully, our crew chiefs have a lot of data here and that just helps all of us. Tomorrow, the goal is to clean up my shift points. They are not perfect yet. There’s always room for improvement.”
Pro Stock Motorcycle brought the return of Matt Smith riding his Buell after struggling in the first half of the season on the Suzuki. Smith announced earlier in the week that he would make the switch for the Mile-High Nationals and had not made any decisions about the rest of the year, mostly because of some parts shortages and so that he could perform for his sponsors with something proven.
Smith smoked the field on his first run of 7.107 which was a track record. On his second pass he shut off early intentionally and still finished with a 7.226.
“I guess we’ll see what Sunday brings but a lot of factors went into that decision [to race a Buell],” said Smith. “First, I don’t have spare parts and pieces for Suzuki. I’ve also never run a Suzuki up here and I didn’t want to take a chance to hurt it. I want to be able to race it next week in Sonoma if I decide to.
“Last year, I was No. 1 and won the race on my Buell,” Smith said. “This is basically the same package. This Denso Buell is hateful.”
The Camping World NHRA Drag Racing Series Dodge Power Brokers Mile-High Nationals continue today at Bandimere Speedway with the 3rd and 4th qualifying runs and final eliminations on Sunday.
See a full recap from Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor:
See the Friday photo gallery from the NHRA National Dragster staff:
Don't miss the Saturday preview from Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor: