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Morgan Is New ‘King Of The Mountain’

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, July 27 2015
Larry Morgan survived a staging duel with Allen Johnson to become the 'King of The Mountain' in Colorado.

Larry Morgan survived a staging duel with Allen Johnson to become the ‘King of The Mountain’ in Colorado.

An unflappable Larry Morgan won a classic Pro Stock starting line burn-down against Allen Johnson en route to a hole-shot victory that ended the latter’s reign as “King of The Mountain” during Sunday’s upset-filled finals of the 36th annual Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals.

Following a stubborn staging duel that lasted 1 minute, 45 seconds, Morgan covered the quarter-mile at Bandimere Speedway – aka “Thunder Mountain” – in 6.944-seconds at 199.02 mph to register his second national event victory of the season and 12th of his career. Morgan’s reaction time at the Christmas Tree of 0.014-seconds was 0.021-seconds quicker than Johnson’s RT and proved the difference as the latter ran 6.930-seconds at 199.23 mph.

“What a wonderful race,” said Morgan, driver of the FireAde Chevrolet Camaro and winner of the Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway in Concord, N.C., in late March. “This was probably my best win this year. The Four-Wide (event) was cool because I got to beat three guys at one time. Coming up here and racing Allen, though, I give those guys all the respect in the world for being in the final round nine straight years. Nobody will ever do what he’s done up here, and I commend him for that. Those guys are still the ‘King of The Mountain.’ I just got lucky enough to keep it for one race. He still owns this place.”

The 2012 NHRA world champion, Johnson had carded his 37th career pole and first of 2015 Saturday with a track-record pass of 6.877-seconds at 200.29 mph in his Magneti Marelli Dodge Dart. Johnson came into the event having won six of the last eight races at Bandimere, and was looking for his fourth consecutive win at the track in Morrison, Colo., 10 miles west of Denver.

Johnson’s day began with a first-round bye in a shortened field of 15 Factory Hot Rods and ended with the Tennessee native, visibly upset, tossing a water bottle in disgust in the top end media interview area. Johnson did not address the starting line issue during the ESPN2 telecast. Morgan and Johnson sat in the pre-stage beam testing NHRA Chief Starter Mark Lyle’s patience and one another before Johnson finally inched ahead and staged.

“I got on the radio about one minute into the stage and I told my guys, ‘I guess Allen just doesn’t want to stage,’^” said Morgan, who won his first national event at Bandimere in 1990. “You know, we put on a good race in the final, and that guy has no reason to hang his head.

“It was good for the fans. And it was a lot of fun for us.”

Meanwhile, Steve Torrence out-raced eight-time/reigning Top Fuel world champion Tony Schumacher to record his first victory in over two years. In Funny Car, Jack Beckman trailered John Force in a matchup of world champions while point-leader Eddie Krawiec scored his first victory of the season in Pro Stock Motorcycle during the 14th of 24 events of the 2015 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule. The event marked the opening of the three-race Western Swing.

Morgan and crew chief Nick Morgan tested with a Gray Motorsports Camaro at Bandimere last week, completing several successful passes in the thin mountain air. That work paid off when Morgan qualified No. 2 to Johnson.”We ran good every run,” said Morgan, a 60-year-old resident of Newark, Ohio. “It seemed like everything we did fell into place. We couldn’t make a bad run. I was so excited to get back up here I couldn’t stand it because I thought we were really going to do well up here and we did.”I’m just so excited to be out here to win the race, and I’m excited for FireAde, Lucas Oil, Streamlight, my whole team, the Grays. All the guys that work on the team, we all work well together and I get to relax. It’s just something like I have never had before.”Morgan started his day with a victory over Joey Grose, who red-lit while Morgan completed a pass of 6.925-seconds at 199.43 mph. Matched against two-time world champion Jason Line in Round 2, Morgan recorded a pass of 6.918-seconds at 199.37 mph _ slower than Line’s 6.910-second run at 200.00 mph. But Morgan got the hole-shot win thanks to his 0.017-second lead off the Christmas Tree.In the semifinals, Morgan faced reigning world champion Erica Enders, whom he had beaten in the semis of the previous event at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill. Enders posted a slight edge at the start, 0.015-seconds to 0.020, but Morgan ran her down with a pass of 6.914-seconds at 199.32 mph. Enders’ lap was timed in 6.914-seconds at 199.26 mph.Morgan’s switch from a Ford Mustang to a Gray Motorsports Camaro during the offseason has rejuvenated his career. “I raced a Ford for five years and we didn’t have the support we needed,” Morgan said. “But I have gotten a lot of support from a lot of different people (this season), and without them I wouldn’t be up here. I’m very proud to be up here.”

In Top Fuel, Torrence powered his Capco Racing/Torrence Motorsports dragster to the winner’s circle with 1,000-foot pass in 3.925-seconds at 319.37 mph to earn his fifth career victory, first at Bandimere and first since Bristol 2013. Schumacher posted numbers of 3.940-seconds at 305.08 mph in his U.S. Army dragster.

“I thought I saw him ahead of me, and I said, ‘No, don’t pull this on me,’^” said Torrence, who moved to ninth in points and earned the seventh spot in the Traxxas Nitro Shootout at Indianapolis. “I saw him out there for a little bit and then he disappeared, and I thanked the Good Lord when my win light came on because we needed this win. We needed to get back into the Traxxas showdown.

“Tony and I are friends, but when you run a DSR car you have to bring your A-game. To beat him on The Mountain is unbelievable. It’s been way too long to get into the winner’s circle. It’s not representative of the team we have. I’m getting confidence in myself, and that’s a good thing.”

Schumacher, the current Top Fuel point-leader and No. 2 qualifier, raced past Steven Chrisman, Clay Millican and Brittany Force before falling to Torrence. “The Sarge” exited Bandimere with an 85-point/four-rounds of racing advantage over Don Schumacher Racing teammate and 2012 world champion Antron Brown.

Beckman powered his Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car to his fourth win of the season with a 1,000-foot performance of 4.190-seconds at 293.92 mph against Brut Force. Beckman, the 2012 world champ, now has 19 career victories, placing him 10th on the all-time list in Funny Car. “Fast Jack” scored his third career victory at Bandimere and first with crew chief Jimmy Prock, formerly of John Force Racing and Force’s team.

“Jimmy Prock intimidates the other crew chiefs,” said Beckman, who moved into second in Funny Car points. “He’ll force them to do things they may not be comfortable with. Last year, I was 0-6 against JFR, so I figured I had paid my dues. To do it in the final round today, when they really had the better car throughout the weekend _ to beat the No. 1 qualifier, the winningest driver of all time and at the Mopar race _ this is just a perfect weekend.”

Force, driver of the Blu Def Peak Chevrolet Camaro SS, was appearing in his fourth final-round of the season and second against Beckman. A six-time winner at Bandimere, Force advanced to third in the point standings led by two-time/reigning world champion Matt Hagan, who is Beckman’s DSR teammate.

Krawiec , a three-time world champion, raced to his 28th career victory in Pro Stock Motorcycle via a quarter-mile hole-shot pass in 7.239-seconds at 185.51 mph over Hector Arana Jr. The current PSM point-leader earned his first win of the season and third at Bandimere.

“In the final, I could hear him (Arana Jr.) next to me,” said Krawiec, rider of the Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson V-Rod. “I will say one thing; I knew I had to be about 0.020 on the Tree, and I was 0.025. I usually don’t race that way. I don’t usually have to push that hard, but this year I do. I really didn’t want the final to be that close, but I couldn’t ask for any better. It always makes the driver look good to win on a hole-shot.”

Krawiec defeated Chaz Kennedy, two-time world champion Matt Smith and Jim Underdahl on his way to the final.

Arana Jr., who won at Route 66 Raceway outside Chicago, raced his Lucas Oil Buell past Freddie Camarena, Steve Johnson and reigning world champ and 2014 event-winner Andrew Hines to reach the final. Arana Jr. sits second in points, trailing Krawiec by 36.

Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway will host Round 2 of the Western Swing, the 28th annual NHRA Sonoma Nationals, from July 31-Aug. 2.

Final finishing order (1-16) at the 36th annual Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway, the 14th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series:

Top Fuel _1. Steve Torrence; 2. Tony Schumacher; 3. Brittany Force; 4. Larry Dixon; 5. Clay Millican; 6. J.R. Todd; 7. Richie Crampton; 8. Shawn Langdon; 9. Spencer Massey; 10. Antron Brown; 11. Jenna Haddock; 12. Terry McMillen; 13. Doug Kalitta; 14. Scott Palmer; 15. Steven Chrisman; 16. Dave Connolly.

Funny Car _ 1. Jack Beckman; 2. John Force; 3. Alexis DeJoria; 4. Tony Pedregon; 5. Cruz Pedregon; 6. Matt Hagan; 7. Tim Wilkerson; 8. Tommy Johnson Jr.; 9. Ron Capps; 10. Del Worsham; 11. Courtney Force; 12. Robert Hight; 13. John Hale; 14. Chad Head; 15. Jeff Diehl; 16. Todd Simpson.

Pro Stock _ 1. Larry Morgan; 2. Allen Johnson; 3. Erica Enders; 4. Shane Gray; 5. Greg Anderson; 6. Jason Line; 7. Drew Skillman; 8. Jonathan Gray; 9. Chris McGaha; 10. Vincent Nobile; 11. V. Gaines; 12. Bo Butner; 13. Deric Kramer; 14. Matt Hartford; 15. Joey Grose.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _1. Eddie Krawiec; 2. Hector Arana Jr.; 3. Andrew Hines; 4. Jim Underdahl; 5. Hector Arana; 6. Matt Smith; 7. Scotty Pollacheck; 8. Steve Johnson; 9. Jerry Savoie; 10. Shawn Gann; 11. Karen Stoffer; 12. Chaz Kennedy; 13. Freddie Camarena; 14. Chip Ellis; 15. LE Tonglet; 16. Angie Smith.

Overall final results from the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway:

Top Fuel _ Steve Torrence, 3.925-seconds, 319.37 mph def. Tony Schumacher, 3.940 seconds, 305.08 mph.

Funny Car_ Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 4.190, 293.92 def. John Force, Chevy Camaro, 4.291, 258.96.

Pro Stock _ Larry Morgan, Chevy Camaro, 6.944, 199.02 def. Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.930, 199.23.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 7.239, 185.51 def. Hector Arana Jr., Buell, 7.230, 186.43.

Super Stock _ Dan Fletcher, Chevy Camaro, 11.259, 102.15 def. Jim Hawkins, Camaro, foul.

Stock Eliminator _Ryan Montford, Chevy Camaro, 10.028, 119.04 def. Scott Burton, Pontiac Firebird, 11.350, 98.98.

Super Comp _ Bill Percival, Dragster, 9.500, 156.39 def. Justin Ewing, Dragster, 9.541, 150.98.

Super Gas _ Michael Miller, ’27-T Ford, 10.539, 138.86 def. Brian Percival, Dodge Dart, 10.518, 131.95.

Top Dragster _ Victoria Johnson, Dragster, 7.201, 186.46 def. Adam Chioda, Dragster, 7.974, 161.85.

Top Sportsman _ Ron Williams, Pontiac GTO, 8.030, 168.83 def. J.J. Heber, Ford Mustang, 7.007, 192.55.

Final round-by-round results from Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway:

TOP FUEL

ROUND ONE _ Steve Torrence, 3.891, 320.13 def. Jenna Haddock, 4.156, 284.93; Brittany Force, 3.974, 307.09 def. Terry McMillen, 4.182, 237.46; Larry Dixon, 4.352, 243.99 def. Scott Palmer, 4.408, 231.52; Tony Schumacher, 4.150, 227.69 def. Steven Chrisman, 5.546, 124.64; Richie Crampton, 4.193, 254.90 def. Doug Kalitta, 4.242, 256.70; Shawn Langdon, 3.906, 302.08 def. Spencer Massey, 3.920, 317.34; Clay Millican, 4.264, 229.43 def. Dave Connolly, 6.251, 88.18; J.R. Todd, 3.968, 305.56 def. Antron Brown, 3.991, 302.89;

QUARTERFINALS _ Schumacher, 3.933, 304.87 def. Millican, 3.963, 308.57; Dixon, 3.974, 300.86 def. Todd, 4.080, 259.26; Torrence, 3.946, 303.64 def. Crampton, 4.309, 235.97; Force, 3.932, 313.37 def. Langdon, 4.548, 208.42;

SEMIFINALS _ Torrence, 3.902, 318.09 def. Dixon, 3.948, 312.57; Schumacher, 3.896, 315.56 def. Force, 3.916, 315.71;

FINAL _ Torrence, 3.925, 319.37 def. Schumacher, 3.940, 305.08.

FUNNY CAR

ROUND ONE _ John Force, Chevy Camaro, 4.225, 300.26 def. John Hale, Dodge Charger, 4.632, 216.58; Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 4.596, 220.26 def. Jeff Diehl, Toyota Solara, 4.880, 179.52; Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.587, 270.92 def. Todd Simpson, Camaro, 6.287, 114.09; Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.497, 246.39 def. Chad Head, Toyota Camry, 4.665, 118.18; Tony Pedregon, Camry, 4.316, 281.36 def. Robert Hight, Camaro, 4.568, 212.63; Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.235, 303.71 def. Del Worsham, Camry, 4.221, 292.39; Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.330, 271.52 def. Courtney Force, Camaro, foul; Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.157, 287.17 def. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.205, 299.93;

QUARTERFINALS _ T. Pedregon, 4.216, 279.56 def. Johnson Jr., 4.694, 190.83; Beckman, 4.124, 302.48 def. Hagan, 4.391, 228.11; J. Force, 4.224, 304.87 def. C. Pedregon, 4.272, 279.85; DeJoria, 4.248, 292.84 def. Wilkerson, 4.427, 254.23;

SEMIFINALS _ J. Force, 4.107, 310.70 def. T. Pedregon, 4.281, 267.00; Beckman, 4.184, 295.40 def. DeJoria, foul;

FINAL _ Beckman, 4.190, 293.92 def. J. Force, 4.291, 258.96.

PRO STOCK

ROUND ONE _ Drew Skillman, Chevy Camaro, 6.944, 199.08 def. Bo Butner, Camaro, foul; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.915, 199.97 def. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.940, 198.50; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.925, 198.96 def. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.924, 199.91; Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.955, 199.55 def. V. Gaines, Dodge Dart, 6.952, 199.32; Jonathan Gray, Camaro, 6.968, 198.50 def. Deric Kramer, Dodge Avenger, 6.972, 198.76; Allen Johnson, Dart, 6.907, 199.49 was unopposed; Larry Morgan, Camaro, 6.925, 199.43 def. Joey Grose, Camaro, foul; Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.895, 199.97 def. Matt Hartford, Pontiac GXP, 6.996, 197.22;

QUARTERFINALS _ S. Gray, 6.915, 200.14 def. J. Gray, broke; Morgan, 6.918, 199.37 def. Line, 6.910, 200.00; Johnson, 6.905, 200.05 def. Skillman, 6.950, 198.23; Enders, 6.900, 199.91 def. Anderson, 6.904, 199.73;

SEMIFINALS _ Johnson, 6.930, 199.14 def. S. Gray, 6.948, 199.20; Morgan, 6.914, 199.32 def. Enders, 6.920, 199.26;

FINAL _ Morgan, 6.944, 199.02 def. Johnson, 6.930, 199.23.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE

ROUND ONE _ Matt Smith, 7.254, 183.69 def. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 7.268, 185.31; Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 7.266, 184.40 def. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, foul; Hector Arana, Buell, 7.417, 171.49 def. Chip Ellis, Buell, 7.371, 183.02; Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, 7.287, 183.82 def. Angie Smith, 7.555, 177.49; Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 7.258, 184.57 def. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 7.321, 183.00; Hector Arana Jr., Buell, 7.208, 187.76 def. Freddie Camarena, Suzuki, 7.355, 183.59; Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 7.208, 186.85 def. Chaz Kennedy, Buell, 7.339, 180.16; Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 7.273, 180.84 def. Shawn Gann, Buell, 7.277, 184.52;

QUARTERFINALS _ Underdahl, 7.240, 185.05 def. Arana, 7.262, 185.28; Hines, 7.256, 183.87 def. Pollacheck, 7.298, 183.92; Krawiec, 7.229, 184.72 def. M. Smith, 7.278, 183.87; Arana Jr., 7.212, 187.29 def. Johnson, broke;

SEMIFINALS _ Krawiec, 7.254, 184.35 def. Underdahl, 7.453, 160.81; Arana Jr., 7.245, 185.08 def. Hines, 7.277, 182.13;

FINAL _ Krawiec, 7.239, 185.51 def. Arana Jr., 7.230, 186.43.

Point standings (top-10) following the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway:

Top Fuel _ 1. Tony Schumacher, 1,126; 2. Antron Brown, 1,041; 3. Larry Dixon, 920; 4. Doug Kalitta, 880; 5. Richie Crampton, 848; 6. Spencer Massey, 788; 7. Brittany Force, 762; 8. Shawn Langdon, 748; 9. Steve Torrence, 728; 10. J.R. Todd, 703.

Funny Car _ 1. Matt Hagan, 1,083; 2. Jack Beckman, 938; 3. John Force, 891; 4. Ron Capps, 879; 5. Del Worsham, 868; 6. Tommy Johnson Jr., 855; 7. (tie) Cruz Pedregon, 782; Tim Wilkerson, 782; 9. Alexis DeJoria, 731; 10. Robert Hight, 703.

Pro Stock _1. Greg Anderson, 1,201; 2. Erica Enders, 1,164; 3. Jason Line, 988; 4. Chris McGaha, 925; 5. Allen Johnson, 845; 6. Larry Morgan, 842; 7. Drew Skillman, 779; 8. Shane Gray, 723; 9. Vincent Nobile, 681; 10. Jonathan Gray, 667.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _1. Eddie Krawiec, 575; 2. Hector Arana Jr., 539; 3. Andrew Hines, 484; 4. Karen Stoffer, 413; 5. Jim Underdahl, 387; 6. Hector Arana, 383; 7. Matt Smith, 357; 8. Angelle Sampey, 336; 9. LE Tonglet, 334; 10. Jerry Savoie, 328.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, July 27 2015
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