Bandimere 2018 winners circle nhra

Hector Arana Jr., Greg Anderson, John Force, and Leah Pritchett celebrate victory at Bandimere Speedway in the first of three Western Swing events in the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. (Image/NHRA)

NHRA legends John Force and Greg Anderson broke through for their first wins of the year in their respective classes Sunday at the first stop on the Western Swing at the Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway.

It was career win #149 for Force in Funny Car, and career win #91 for Anderson in Pro Stock.

Leah Pritchett (Top Fuel) and Hector Arana Jr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were also winners in their respective categories at the 14th of 24 events on the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.

Force was in his 13th career final round at Bandimere Speedway and was pitted against Ron Capps. In his Chevrolet Camaro SS, Force was able to leave the line ahead of Capps for a winning pass of 4.075-seconds at 315.42 miles per hour to the losing run of 4.067 at 308.71. This is Force’s eighth win at Thunder Mountain.

“I found myself with all of the crashes at probably the lowest I’ve been, probably worse than ’05 when I crashed and was fighting to get back,” Force said. “The fire is back in me. I’m fighting.”

Force became the winningest Funny Car driver at Bandimere Speedway with his first win at the facility since 2016. He defeated Matt Hagan, Cruz Pedregon, and daughter Courtney Force to advance to the finals.

Anderson Reclaims Points Lead With First 2018 Win

In Pro Stock, Anderson raced to his first win of the year, third at Bandimere, and reclaimed the Pro Stock points lead when he defeated fellow Team Summit driver Jason Line in the finals.

Anderson’s 6.943 at 196.53 pass in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro outran Line’s 6.947 at 196.19 to snap his winless streak.

“We have had a heck of a battle this year,” Anderson said. “We have had great running cars, but we have made mistakes on Sunday and haven’t been able to close the deal. The class is so tough right now. It is so hard to win. The bottom line is we haven’t put forth our best effort on Sunday. We haven’t lost giving it our best shot, and today we did.”

Anderson defeated Joey Grose, Vincent Nobile, and Jeg Coughlin Jr. to advance to the finals.

Pritchett Wins Top Fuel

Pritchett dominated the Top Fuel category during the course of the weekend en route to her second win of the season and the seventh in her career.

She was the #1 qualifier for the second consecutive event and 10th time in her career.

Pritchett faced Doug Kalitta in the finals and ran a 3.831 at 316.45 to defeat Kalitta’s 3.852 at 319.82.

“Our crew has really impressed. Attitude of gratitude, as high as the altitude here,” Pritchett said. “They chipped away at it and didn’t let themselves get down earlier this year when we were in a slump, and they didn’t let me get myself down in a slump either. I always have my confidence in them, and they have their confidence in me, and this weekend we pulled it all together.”

Pritchett defeated Terry Totten, Scott Palmer, and Clay Millican to get to the finals against Kalitta.

Arana Jr. Gets First Pro Stock Motorcycle Win Since ’15

Arana Jr. raced to his first win since 2015 on his Lucas Oil EBR for his 12th career win when he bested Jerry Savoie in the finals.

Arana Jr. was victorious at the start of the race when Savoie red lit.

Arana Jr. went on to record a pass of 7.170 at 185.89. This was the first final round of the year for Arana Jr.

“We have had a fast bike all the time, just been working on consistency and then when the bike was good, I was making little errors,” Arana Jr. said. “Dedication, hard work, and practicing to bring it all together. Finally got over some hurdles over here and now we should be back on track.”

The 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season will continue with the Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals at Sonoma Raceway July 27-29 in Sonoma, CA.

NHRA Pro Stock Point Standings

  1.  Greg Anderson           1,044
  2.  Tanner Gray               976
  3.  Erica Enders              969
  4.  Vincent Nobile            947
  5.  Chris McGaha              875

NHRA Funny Car Point Standings

  1.  Courtney Force          1,156
  2.  Matt Hagan                946
  3.  Ron Capps                 930
  4.  Robert Hight              911
  5.  Jack Beckman              906

NHRA Top Fuel Point Standings

  1.  Steve Torrence          1,132
  2.  Clay Millican             959
  3.  Leah Pritchett            949 
  4.  Tony Schumacher           930
  5.  Doug Kalitta              893

NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle Point Standings

  1.  Andrew Hines              591 
  2.  Eddie Krawiec             564
  3.  Hector Arana Jr.          501 
  4.  LE Tonglet                493
  5.  Jerry Savoie              481
Drag Race Central and NHRA contributed to this report.