Pruett Gives Stewart First Win

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, July 20 2022

Leah Pruett hoists her Wally.

Leah Pruett delivered the first Top Fuel victory for team-owner and husband Tony Stewart at Bandimere Speedway Sunday, as NHRA kicked-off its traditional three-race, summertime Western Swing at the 42nd annual Dodge Power Brokers NHRA Mile-High Nationals.

Pruett covered the 1,000-foot distance in 3.884-seconds at 316.38 mph to defeat Shawn Langdon in the final in Morrison, Colo., near Denver. Pruett’s second career win in the rarified air on Bandimere’s famed Thunder Mountain was her first of the season and 10th overall.

“This is absolutely everything,” said Pruett, driver of the Dodge Power Brokers dragster. “We have the best fans in the entire nation. This is my favorite track. I’ve been trying to be emotionless all day just to do my job, but this is for (crew chiefs) Neal Strausbaugh, Mike Domagala, Ryan McGilvry and my entire crew that was flawless all weekend.

What you guys are seeing here is pure gratitude for my team and the belief that Tony has had in us. We’ve had a tough season so far, but the team is optimistic and has long-term goals. You’re seeing the short-term results of it. I couldn’t be prouder than to do it at a place like this. Thank you, Bandimere.” 

Pruett reached the final round by trailering three-time world champion Antron Brown, Clay Millican and Justin Ashley in a series of consistent runs at her sponsor’s race.

“Of all the places we go to on the circuit, Denver is the one she circles on the calendar,” Stewart said of Pruett, who also won this event in 2018. “Denver is the one she loves the most and the thing she talks about the most. It’s the support of the fans here that means the most to her. For her to win her first race with this group and this organization here, it means the world to her.”

Pruett’s victory was the fourth for TSR during its inaugural NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season, but first in Top Fuel. Three-time NHRA Funny Car world champion Matt Hagan has recorded three wins in 2022 for Stewart, a three-time NASCAR Cup Series champ.

Langdon, the 2013 world champion, advanced to his second final this season and 37th in his career by eliminating Greg Carillo, point-leader Mike Salinas and Josh Hart. Salinas’ championship lead stands at 10 points over 2016 world champ Brittany Force of John Force Racing halfway through the 22 national event schedule.

In a Funny Car final rematch of the most recent race in Norwalk, Ohio, Robert Hight prevailed over Bob Tasca III. Point-leader Hight covered the 1,000-foot distance in 4.065-seconds at 311.92 mph en route to his fifth win of the season, fifth at Bandimere and 58th in his career at John Force Racing. Hight, who qualified second, reached a final round for the seventh time this year by defeating Terry Haddock, 2018 world champ J.R. Todd and teammate/16-time world champ John Force.

A three-time world champion, Hight powered past Tasca for the third time in five races on a ladder that saw 14 entrants.

“Things are going our way right now, but there’s a lot of good teams out there,” said Hight, driver of the Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro SS. “I give all the credit to our team. Last year was probably the worst race we’ve ever had on ‘The Mountain.’ This year, we made quality runs and went down the track every time. I was confident my guys had it figured out. We just raced really smart, made it go down the track and I tried to do my job.

“To have five wins at this point in the season, it’s surreal. Everything is working from top-to-bottom and we’re just going to try to stay focused and keep working. It’s been a great first half of the season, but these next 11 are going to be even tougher.”

Tasca reached the final in his Motorcraft Ford Mustang for the second straight race and 23rd time in his career by knocking off Chad Green, two-time/reigning world champ Ron Capps and Jack Wyatt, who upset No. 1 qualifier Matt Hagan in the opening round. Hight also extended his championship lead to 95 points over Hagan.

Pro Stock’s Matt Hartford was terrific on the starting line, registering an 0.004-second reaction time and quarter-mile run of 6.967-seconds at 196.36 mph to defeat No. 1 qualifier Aaron Stanfield in the final.

Hartford earned his first win of the season and fifth in his career as well as a measure of redemption at Bandimere Speedway after finishing as runnerup to Greg Anderson in 2019. That was the last time Pro Stock raced on Thunder Mountain before this weekend, and Hartford responded by trailering Deric Kramer, Mason McGaha and Cristian Cuadra.

Hartford capped the day with a no-doubter at the starting line against Stanfield. “I love Bandimere, but it’s a hard facility to race at,” said Hartford, driver of the Total Seal Chevrolet Camaro SS. “Since Epping (New Hampshire) we’ve turned our program around and come race day I know we’re going to have a top car.

“It would eat me up every time I watched the finals versus Greg in ’19. It’s a hard pill to swallow knowing if I would have driven better, I could have won that race. But to have this redemption it’s great for this team. Coming up here, it’s an equalizer and anyone can win on race day, but I was relaxed and I knew I had a great car.”

Stanfield reached his fourth straight final, sixth this season and 12th in his career by defeating 2017 world champ Bo Butner and Troy Coughlin Jr. Stanfield also closed to within 35 points of leader Erica Enders, the four-time world champ who was ousted in the first round by Mason McGaha.

Matt Smith capped a dominant Pro Stock Motorcycle weekend by defeating Joey Gladstone in the final. Smith covered the quarter-mile in 7.097-seconds at 190.22 mph to win for the second straight time at Bandimere. The five-time/reigning Pro Stock Bike world champ, Smith also set the track speed record en route to his 34th career win and second this season over a field of 13 bikes.

The final was a fitting finish to an event that included track records all weekend, including a couple on Sunday. Smith became the first rider to reach the 7.00s in qualifying and then became the first-in-class to reach 190 mph on Thunder Mountain, doing so in his semifinal win against three-time world champ Angelle Sampey. In the final, Smith went even faster and nearly equaled his qualifying run of 7.090, as he remained a step ahead of the competition.

“This is the bike that won this race last year and it paid off,” Smith said of his Denso Auto Parts EBR. “We qualified No. 1, won the race and set both ends of track record. I can’t ask for much more than that. I really wish I’d have run (wife) Angie in the final, but something happened to her bike in the (semifinals). Her bike slowed up, but Denso took the win and that’s most important.”

Gladstone reached his second straight final aboard his Suzuki via victories against Ryan Oehler, four-time world champion Eddie Krawiec and Angie Smith. Veteran Steve Johnson’s point lead was reduced to 10 over Sampey and 19 over Matt Smith.

Round 2 of the Western Swing is scheduled for July 22-24 at the Denso NHRA Sonoma Nationals at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway.

Final finishing order (1-16) at the 42nd annual Dodge Power Brokers NHRA Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway in Morrison, Colo. The race was the 11th of 22 events in the 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series:

Top Fuel _ 1. Leah Pruett; 2. Shawn Langdon; 3. Josh Hart; 4. Justin Ashley; 5. Mike Salinas; 6. Brittany Force; 7. Clay Millican; 8. Austin Prock; 9. Steve Torrence; 10. Doug Kalitta; 11. Terry Totten; 12. Alex Laughlin; 13. Tony Schumacher; 14. Antron Brown; 15. Cameron Ferre; 16. Greg Carrillo.

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

Pro Stock _ 1. Matt Hartford; 2. Aaron Stanfield; 3. Cristian Cuadra; 4. Troy Coughlin Jr.; 5. Mason McGaha; 6. Bo Butner; 7. Fernando Cuadra Jr.; 8. Chris McGaha; 9. Erica Enders; 10. Dallas Glenn; 11. Kyle Koretsky; 12. Camrie Caruso; 13. Deric Kramer; 14. Greg Anderson; 15. Fernando Cuadra.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ 1. Matt Smith; 2. Joey Gladstone; 3. Angie Smith; 4. Angelle Sampey; 5. Eddie Krawiec; 6. Marc Ingwersen; 7. Jerry Savoie; 8. Steve Johnson; 9. Karen Stoffer; 10. Jim Underdahl; 11. Ryan Oehler; 12. Jianna Evaristo; 13. Kelly Clontz.

Final Pro and Sportsman results from the 42nd annual Dodge Power Brokers NHRA Mile-High Nationals:

Top Fuel _ Leah Pruett, 3.884-seconds, 316.38 mph def. Shawn Langdon, Broke. 

Funny Car _ Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 4.065, 311.92 def. Bob Tasca III, Ford Mustang, 4.263, 272.89. 

Pro Stock _ Matt Hartford, Chevy Camaro, 6.967, 196.36 def. Aaron Stanfield, Camaro, 7.054, 172.61.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ Matt Smith, EBR, 7.097, 190.22 def. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 7.163, 185.43.

Super Stock _ Tyler Wudarczyk, Chevy Camaro, 11.242, 118.93 def. Bill Jenkins, Chevy Cavalier, Foul/Red Light. 

Stock Eliminator _ John Brimer, Ford Mustang, 9.558, 136.95 def. Jay Storey, Chevy Camaro, 9.820, 134.40. 

Super Comp _ Marty Simpson, Dragster, 9.524, 161.85 def. Todd McCann, Dragster, 9.539, 170.90. 

Super Gas _ Kris Whitfield, ’27-T Ford, 10.482, 145.75 def. Ray Schoneman, Nova, 10.475, 141.92.

Top Dragster presented by Vortech Superchargers _ Chandler Thyssen, Dragster, 7.414, 178.61 def. Daria Vang, Dragster, Broke.

Top Sportsman presented by Vortech Superchargers _ David Scutt, Olds Calais, 7.738, 178.92 def. Wade Kiefer, Chevy Corvette, 7.310, 189.63.

Final round-by-round results from the 42nd annual Dodge Power Brokers NHRA Mile-High Nationals:


ROUND ONE _ Shawn Langdon, 3.891, 312.57 def. Greg Carrillo, 5.367, 136.19; Clay Millican, 3.906, 282.54 def. Tony Schumacher, 4.124, 244.21; Brittany Force, 3.800, 327.27 def. Terry Totten, 4.059, 282.54; Justin Ashley, 3.920, 319.22 def. Cameron Ferre, 4.366, 264.86; Leah Pruett, 3.910, 308.50 def. Antron Brown, 4.189, 231.79; Mike Salinas, 3.898, 321.19 def. Alex Laughlin, 4.087, 266.37; Austin Prock, 3.929, 299.53 def. Steve Torrence, 3.869, 316.75; Josh Hart, 3.999, 314.46 def. Doug Kalitta, 4.003, 285.59; 

QUARTERFINALS _ Pruett, 4.059, 251.77 def. Millican, 4.192, 236.17; Hart, 3.907, 318.32 def. Force, 4.096, 229.08; Langdon, 3.871, 315.49 def. Salinas, 3.901, 303.84; Ashley, 4.144, 291.63 def. Prock, 4.721, 194.60;

SEMIFINALS _ Pruett, 3.879, 317.94 def. Ashley, 4.091, 303.64; Langdon, 3.900, 313.95 def. Hart, 3.935, 313.44; 

FINAL _ Pruett, 3.884, 316.38 def. Langdon, Broke. 


ROUND ONE _ Ron Capps, Toyota Supra, 4.418, 210.41 def. Paul Lee, Dodge Charger, 6.868, 93.97; John Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.977, 324.59 def. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.234, 299.20; Robert Hight, Camaro, 4.035, 319.07 def. Terry Haddock, Ford Mustang, 4.394, 229.98; Jack Wyatt, Charger, 4.182, 279.73 def. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.913, 210.97; Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 3.994, 315.71 def. Chad Green, Mustang, 4.138, 302.96; J.R. Todd, Supra, 4.014, 317.87 def. Cruz Pedregon, Charger, 4.351, 226.09; Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.031, 323.27 def. Alexis DeJoria, Supra, Foul/Red Light; 

QUARTERFINALS _ Hight, 4.253, 260.76 def. Wilkerson, Foul/Centerline; Force, 4.065, 317.57 def. Todd, 4.273, 239.95; Tasca III, 4.220, 268.38 def. Capps, 4.572, 200.56; Wyatt, 10.384, 94.54 was unopposed; 

SEMIFINALS _ Tasca III, 4.034, 318.09 def. Wyatt, 4.752, 199.02; Hight, 4.041, 315.56 def. Force, 4.033, 322.96; 

FINAL _ Hight, 4.065, 311.92 def. Tasca III, 4.263, 272.89.


ROUND ONE _ Bo Butner, Chevy Camaro, 7.015, 195.87 def. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 7.847, 133.59; Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.980, 196.27 def. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 7.028, 195.51; Fernando Cuadra Jr., Ford Mustang, 7.002, 196.04 def. Camrie Caruso, Camaro, Foul/Red Light; Troy Coughlin Jr., Camaro, 6.987, 196.79 def. Kyle Koretsky, Camaro, 7.005, 195.14; Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.990, 195.03 def. Fernando Cuadra, Mustang, Foul/Red Light; Cristian Cuadra, Mustang, 6.986, 195.42 def. Dallas Glenn, Camaro, 6.983, 195.48; Aaron Stanfield, Camaro, 14.357, 59.51 was unopposed; Mason McGaha, Camaro, 6.965, 196.59 def. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.951, 197.02; 

QUARTERFINALS _ Stanfield, 6.995, 195.93 def. Butner, 7.011, 195.11; Coughlin Jr., 6.988, 196.33 def. C. McGaha, 21.052, 37.01; C. Cuadra, 6.987, 195.00 def. Cuadra Jr., 7.017, 194.88; Hartford, 6.991, 196.24 def. M. McGaha, 6.981, 196.10; 

SEMIFINALS _ Stanfield, 6.986, 196.59 def. Coughlin Jr., 6.998, 196.90; Hartford, 6.973, 196.73 def. C. Cuadra, Foul/Red Light; 

FINAL _ Hartford, 6.967, 196.36 def. Stanfield, 7.054, 172.61. 


ROUND ONE _ Marc Ingwersen, EBR, 7.241, 185.03 def. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 7.216, 185.74; Angie Smith, EBR, 7.166, 187.99 def. Jianna Evaristo, Suzuki, 7.371, 179.61; Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 7.173, 186.23 def. Ryan Oehler, EBR, Foul/Red Light; Angelle Sampey, Suzuki, 7.163, 187.23 def. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, Foul/Red Light; Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 7.198, 185.43 def. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 7.173, 185.46; Eddie Krawiec, Suzuki, 7.148, 187.50 def. Kelly Clontz, Suzuki, 7.399, 179.76; Matt Smith, EBR, 7.115, 181.79 was unopposed;

QUARTERFINALS _ A. Smith, 7.186, 188.57 was unopposed; Sampey, 7.181, 186.90 def. Savoie, Foul/Red Light; Gladstone, 7.155, 185.08 def. Krawiec, 7.181, 186.30; M. Smith, 7.103, 189.87 def. Ingwersen, 7.190, 185.28; 

SEMIFINALS _ Gladstone, 7.194, 185.56 def. A. Smith, 7.216, 186.82; M. Smith, 7.121, 190.03 def. Sampey, 7.253, 170.15; 

FINAL _ M. Smith, 7.097, 190.22 def. Gladstone, 7.163, 185.43.

Point standings (top-10) following the 42nd annual Dodge Power Brokers NHRA Mile-High Nationals: 

Top Fuel _1. Mike Salinas, 877; 2. Brittany Force, 867; 3. Justin Ashley, 785; 4. Steve Torrence, 744; 5. Josh Hart, 582; 6. Leah Pruett, 540; 7. Austin Prock, 538; 8. Shawn Langdon, 529; 9. Clay Millican, 519; 10. Doug Kalitta, 492.

Funny Car _1. Robert Hight, 1,050; 2. Matt Hagan, 955; 3. Ron Capps, 884; 4. John Force, 736; 5. Bob Tasca III, 615; 6. Cruz Pedregon, 593; 7. J.R. Todd, 563; 8. Alexis DeJoria, 523; 9. Tim Wilkerson, 488; 10. Chad Green, 440.

Pro Stock _1. Erica Enders, 853; 2. Aaron Stanfield, 818; 3. Kyle Koretsky, 594; 4. Dallas Glenn, 507; 5. Greg Anderson, 491; 6. Mason McGaha, 486; 7. Matt Hartford, 457; 8. Camrie Caruso, 455; 9. Deric Kramer, 408; 10. Troy Coughlin Jr., 393.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _1. Steve Johnson, 525; 2. Angelle Sampey, 515; 3. Matt Smith, 506; 4. Joey Gladstone, 479; 5. Angie Smith, 467; 6. Karen Stoffer, 466; 7. Eddie Krawiec, 434; 8. Jerry Savoie, 395; 9. Marc Ingwersen, 346; 10. Jim Underdahl, 291.

Editor’s Note: John Sturbin is a Texas-based journalist specializing in motorsports. During a near 30-year career with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, he won the Bloys Britt Award for top motorsports story of the year (1991) as judged by The Associated Press; received the National Hot Rod Association’s Media Award (1995) and several in-house Star-Telegram honors. He also was inaugural recipient of the Texas Motor Speedway Excellence in Journalism Award (2009). His list of freelance clients includes Texas Motor Speedway, the Dallas Morning News, New York Newsday, Rome (N.Y.) Daily Sentinel, Corpus Christi (Texas) Caller Times, NASCAR Wire Service, Ford Racing and Used Car Dealer magazine).



| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, July 20 2022
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