Sun, 21 Jul 2019, 01:17 AM
Torrence, Hight, Freeman and M. Smith Secure No. 1 Spots
Courtesy of NHRA Communications
Photo copyright 2019 NHRA/National Dragster
At Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals Presented By Pennzoil
MORRISON, Colo. -
Steve Torrence continued his dominant pace on Saturday, powering to the
No. 1 qualifying position in Top Fuel during the 40th annual Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals
presented by Pennzoil at Bandimere Speedway.
Robert Hight (Funny Car), Richard Freeman (Pro Stock) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also
qualified No. 1 in their respective categories at the 14th of 24 races during the 2019 NHRA Mello
Yello Drag Racing Series season.
Torrence, the defending world champ and current points leader in the class, went 3.738-seconds at
328.78 mph in his Capco Contractors dragster to claim the No. 1 qualifier for the third time this
season and 22nd time in his career. After making the second-quickest run in track history on that
run and setting the track speed record on Friday, Torrence will race for his eighth win in the past
nine races on Sunday. Defending event winner Leah Pritchett qualified second with a 3.761 at 315.19
and Jordan Vandergriff was third following his 3.796 at 321.27.
"We ran well the last three sessions, so the confidence in the car was there for sure," Torrence
said. "I knew the numbers were out there and I've got a lot of faith in my team. We just need to go
out here and do the best we can on the first race of the three-race Western Swing. To make full
pulls consistently, it's been huge and it's a big part of our success."
Funny Car points leader Hight earned his seventh No. 1 qualifier of 2019 and 67th in his career
after his pass of 3.976 at 326.16 during the final qualifying session in his Auto Club Chevrolet
Camaro SS. Hight will try for his fifth career win at Bandimere Speedway as John Force Racing
qualified No. 1 in Denver for the sixth straight year. Tommy Johnson Jr. will start eliminations in
second after his 3.978 at 317.72, while Cruz Pedregon is third with a 4.002 at 317.42.
"We came in here testing some stuff and the two runs (on Friday) we were testing stuff didn't go
well," Hight said. "You have to throw that out, and I'm glad NHRA and the fans stuck this out so we
could make another run. You don't want to into raceday not getting down the track, so that was big
for us. We've had a lot of good luck up here."
Pro Stock's Freeman raced to his first career No. 1 qualifier in the class after going 6.948 at
197.33 in his Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro. Freeman, the Elite Motorsports team owner, became
the 65th different driver to claim a No. 1 spot in the class and will face Joey Grose in the first
round of eliminations. Jeg Coughlin Jr. was second with a 6.953 at 197.51 and Matt Hartford is
third after running 6.954 at 196.93.
"It's really neat," Freeman said. "I've always got to stand behind the cars and enjoy that, but
we're super excited. It's great. It's exciting and I can't say enough about our program and the
guys we have back there, and the other drivers. It's been awesome. I think we're going to be good
(on Sunday), so hopefully we come out of here with a win."
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, defending world champion Smith went to the top spot with his run of 7.132
at 188.31 on his Denso/Stockseth/MSR EBR. It is the second No. 1 qualifier of 2019 for Smith and
the 33rd in his career. Smith will face Jim Underdahl in the opening round of eliminations and is
seeking his third Denver win. Jerry Savoie qualified second after going 7.197 at 183.84 and Angie
Smith is third after a 7.203 at 185.18.
"I didn't expect to run that fast," Matt Smith said. "When I saw Angie go (7.20), I thought I could
maybe go a .17 or .16. The track tightened up and, man, my combination just stuck. That's the
quickest and fastest I've ever been up here and I just can't say enough about my team. We just have
to take it one round at a time and let this bike do its work."
Eliminations begin at 11 a.m. MT on Sunday at the Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals presented by
Pennzoil, and coverage starts at 1 p.m. MT the FOX national broadcast network.
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