Perhaps the change of pace that Bandimere provides is what Beckman and his team needs to shake things up and get back on the winning track. Beckman says the one ingredient that has been missing to put him into the winner’s circle this season has been a just a handful of luck on Sunday.
“We just need a little good race day fortune,” Beckman said. “We haven’t had that this year. Some of our best runs, we’ve had cars in the other lane that ran just a little quicker. Drag racing is funny that way. Sometimes you can make a run that’s not your best and win, and then you can run your best and get beat.”
Which points to the incredible level of competition in the category. Series points leader Matt Hagan has won three times in his Magneti Marelli Charger and Johnny Gray has claimed four victories in his Pitch Energy Charger. Multi-time world champs John Force and Cruz Pedregon have also been winning races, as has Ron Capps and Force’s daughter Courtney.
As teams start to move into position to grab one of the 10 available spots for the Countdown to the Championship playoffs, only 120 points separate third place Pedregon from eighth place Tim Wilkerson. That difference could be made up in one race, so big position moves by drivers in the standings have become quite common this season and more are anticipated as the final five races of the regular season unfold.
Beckman says the competition is so tight, that there just isn’t enough room in the top 10 for all of the quality teams who are capable of winning races.
“Dynasties in this category are a thing of the past,” Beckman said. “We’ve seen a couple of teams put some nice winning streaks together and others win a bunch of races in the last few seasons, but those cars didn’t win the championship either. The depth in the class is just so stunning right now.”
In Top Fuel, Shawn Langdon will take his one point lead in the standings into the event striving to secure his fourth win of the season and his first NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championship. Tony Schumacher, second in points, along with a surging Doug Kalitta, defending event winner Brown and most recent category winner Khalid alBalooshi will all vie for wins at the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals.
Two-time Denver Pro Stock winner Mike Edwards became the first racer of the year to clinch a berth into the Countdown to the Championship with his four season wins and will be looking to continue his dominance on the field. Defending world champ Allen Johnson, a four-time Denver winner, Jeg Coughlin, Jason Line, Greg Anderson and Vincent Nobile are all looking for wins in Colorado.
Riders to watch in the Pro Stock Motorcycle category include series leader Hector Arana Jr., a three-time winner this season, red-hot Michael Ray, who has won two races recently, Norwalk winner Matt Smith, Epping champ John Hall and Scotty Pollacheck, who is a win waiting to happen. The Screamin-Eagle Vance & Hines team of defending world champ Eddie Krawiec and three-time champ Andrew Hines, have local ties in the area and also will be among the pre-race favorites.