The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series kicks off its annual Western Swing this week with a trip to Bandimere Speedway near Denver, Colorado, home of the 35th annual Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals. The event takes place Friday through Sunday, July 18th through 20th and features all four of the NHRA’s top-tier categories: Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle.
2013 Top Fuel champ Shawn Langdon and his Al-Anabi Racing teammate Khalid alBalooshi are currently third and eighth, respectively, in Top Fuel points, both looking for a win at Bandimere, one of just four tracks on the circuit where Al-Anabi Racing doesn’t have a win. Denver marks the first of three straight races that make up the Western Swing, continuing next week at Sonoma Raceway in California and concluding at Pacific Raceway near Seattle, Washington.
Langdon has fond memories of Bandimere, having clinched the NHRA Junior Dragster national championship for 14-year-olds at the track in 1997. He is currently the only Junior Dragster champ that has won an NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series championship as well.
“I always enjoy the Western Swing,” said Langdon. “It’s nice to head out west and go to Denver. I love going to Bandimere Speedway. I have a lot of good history and a lot of good memories there winning the NHRA Junior Dragster national championship there 17 years ago. Then to head out to Somona is always great because it’s one of my favorite race tracks on the Mello Yello tour. I always have a lot of family and friends at Sonoma (Calif.), and there’s just a lot of history about the Western Swing. We’re excited to go out there. Our race car is getting back to running well, and hopefully we can end up with a sweep.”
Like Langdon, who won at Bristol a few weeks ago, alBalooshi has one win this season, the season opener at Gainesville. He’s ready for the challenges Bandimere gives crews and drivers alike, thanks to its altitude – at more than 5,800 feet, the altitude affects engine tuning, aerodynamics, and more.
“Racing in Denver is always tricky, but at least we have a fast car now,” said alBalooshi. “When we go over there, we don’t know what’s going to happen with the weather, the air and the tricky track, but we have a good car. When you have a good car, you know you are in a good position to know what’s going on so you can do your best even though it is a tricky place to race.”
Pro qualifying for the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals kicks off Friday at 4:45 and 7:15 p.m. MT, concluding Saturday at 3:15 and 5:45 p.m. MT. Eliminations get underway Sunday at 11 a.m. MT. Keep up with the action at www.nhra.com.
Quotes in this piece provided by Al-Anabi Racing.
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