DENVER – Allen Johnson is the undisputed king of the mountain.
Johnson won at Bandimere Speedway for the fourth time in the last six years, dominating the Mopar Mile High Nationals by qualifying No. 1, setting the quickest elapsed time in all four qualifying sessions, all four rounds of eliminations and trouncing fellow Dodge driver V Gaines in the final round Sunday.
"My quote's going to be, 'Practice makes perfect,'" Johnson said. "For years we've come up here and tested and developed a combination that's just bad to the bone. We want to do well in front of our Mopar contingent, my bosses and the people who sign our checks at the end of the year. This year was extra special because of the 75th anniversary for Mopar. We really, really wanted to win this race this year and hand them that Wally for the75th anniversary."
Johnson whipped through the Pro Stock field, taking out Paul Pittman, Greg Anderson, Jason Line and Gaines en route to his third victory of the season. In the finals, Johnson left first and made a pass of 6.951 seconds at 197.31 mph to beat Gaines' run of 7.144 at 160.35 mph.
Plus, he jumped over Anderson and Line to take the Pro Stock points lead.
"There's a lot of firsts this year happening for us," Johnson said. "First time I won three races in a year in 17 years. This is a tough dang sport. I don't care what anybody says, I don't care how good your car is running, it's tough to win. You've got people like the Summit cars coming after you with daggers.
"I love to beat those Summit cars, and I beat two of them today (Anderson and Line) and took the points lead from both of them. They're going to be tee'd off big-time, so we better get ready going to the rest of the Western Swing. You know what? We've got the car, and of I can do my job, we can bring that broom out at the end."
Denver kicked off the Western Swing, which continues next weekend at Sonoma, Calif., and ends in Seattle.
Top Fuel driver Antron Brown swept the Swing in 2009, and he secured the first leg in Denver by beating Brandon Bernstein in the final round. Bernstein, hoping to cap a dream week following the birth of his son last Wednesday, made a stellar run of 3.959 seconds at 307.58 mph but fell to Brown's pass of 3.957 at 308.21 mph
"This race here is just tough," Brown said. "Everything we do out here to come up here on the mountain and tune it up to get it down the race track and keep it living. We lived all four rounds today, so this is a good start for a good Swing. You come out of here with a win, and it kind of sets the pace and gives our boys a little motivation for when we go out there in Sonoma."
Jack Beckman had plenty of motivation in Funny Car, trying not to become the first driver to lose in the finals to Courtney Force, the daughter of 15-time champion John Force. Courtney raced to the second final round of her rookie season, but Beckman was up to the task.
"I got a text that said, 'Don't be that guy,'" Beckman said. "I texted back and said, 'I want to be The Man.' Now, you can think about stuff and let it drive you crazy. At some point, to do well at this, you've got to get all that out of your head and go up there and try to own the Tree and control that race car."
Beckman didn't quite own the Christmas Tree, as Force left slightly ahead. But Beckman, the No. 1 qualifier, later took control of the race with a pass of 4.277 seconds at 293.79 mph to beat Force's 4.289 at 283.49 mph.
The victory was Beckman's third of the season, but that pales in comparison to the dominance of the Harley Davidsons in the Pro Stock Motorcycle class. Eddie Krawiec won for the fourth time in 2012, and he and teammate Andrew Hines have won all seven races of the year and nine in a row dating back to last year.
"Talk about a dream season," Krawiec said. "We never expected it to go like this. To be 100 percent honest with you, this race shouldn't have been ours this weekend. We were a little down on ourselves as a team, and we were struggling on Friday and Saturday. We just dig hard and went after it."
Krawiec secured the victory when Hines went red in the final round.
ROUND ONE -- Bob Vandergriff, 3.990, 304.94 def. Morgan Lucas, 4.072, 296.50; Brandon Bernstein, 3.975, 300.06 def. David Grubnic, 4.004, 302.82; Scott Palmer, 4.513, 198.15 def. Terry McMillen, 4.683, 188.60; Doug Kalitta, 4.161, 283.91 def. Clay Millican, 4.622, 188.44; Antron Brown, 3.995, 303.23 def. Rob Passey, 4.682, 235.93; Spencer Massey, 3.992, 308.92 def. Steven Chrisman, 4.127, 285.89; Steve Torrence, 4.006, 300.53 def. Shawn Langdon, 4.213, 256.21; Khalid alBalooshi, 4.014, 301.81 def. Tony Schumacher, 4.020, 304.19; QUARTERFINALS -- Torrence, 4.016, 292.52 def. Kalitta, 4.055, 289.26; Bernstein, 4.654, 171.49 def. Palmer, broke; Brown, 4.070, 295.01 def. Vandergriff, 4.089, 273.66; Massey, 4.058, 296.18 def. alBalooshi, 4.115, 250.23; SEMIFINALS -- Bernstein, 4.015, 300.00 def. Massey, 4.059, 296.11; Brown, 3.991, 306.33 def. Torrence, 4.303, 250.78; FINAL -- Brown, 3.957, 308.21 def. Bernstein, 3.959, 307.58.
ROUND ONE -- Robert Hight, Ford Mustang, 4.251, 288.39 def. Jeff Diehl, Chevy Monte Carlo, 5.142, 162.70; Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 4.235, 295.98 def. Alexis DeJoria, Toyota Camry, 4.914, 169.19; Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.270, 293.41 def. Todd Simpson, Chevy Camaro, foul; Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.261, 290.26 def. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.258, 293.98; Mike Neff, Mustang, 4.275, 299.00 def. Johnny Gray, Charger, 4.366, 282.95; John Force, Mustang, 4.357, 290.07 def. Tony Pedregon, Camry, 4.468, 228.81; Courtney Force, Mustang, 4.390, 284.21 def. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 5.453, 136.12; Jeff Arend, Camry, 4.320, 291.89 def. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.327, 286.38; QUARTERFINALS -- Capps, 4.333, 289.82 def. Neff, 4.308, 292.20; C. Force, 4.496, 274.00 def. Hight, 4.498, 244.96; J. Force, 4.412, 281.83 def. C. Pedregon, 5.591, 141.31; Beckman, 4.358, 286.80 def. Arend, 4.474, 250.09; SEMIFINALS -- Beckman, 4.384, 280.25 def. J. Force, foul; C. Force, 4.259, 295.79 def. Capps, 4.367, 286.32; FINAL -- Beckman, 4.277, 293.79 def. C. Force, 4.289, 283.49.
ROUND ONE -- Greg Anderson, Chevy Camaro, 6.978, 197.28 def. Jeg Coughlin, Dodge Avenger, 6.983, 196.99; Vincent Nobile, Avenger, 6.987, 197.45 def. Warren Johnson, Pontiac GXP, 7.041, 195.59; Larry Morgan, Ford Mustang, 7.005, 196.39 def. Erica Enders, Chevy Cobalt, 6.975, 196.10; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.948, 197.10 def. Deric Kramer, Avenger, 7.073, 194.63; V. Gaines, Avenger, 6.949, 198.12 def. Kurt Johnson, GXP, 7.076, 194.69; Allen Johnson, Avenger, 6.916, 198.70 def. Paul Pittman, Cobalt, 7.525, 155.17; Mike Edwards, GXP, 6.969, 197.16 def. Steve Kalkowski, Pontiac GTO, DQ-Centerline; Ron Krisher, GXP, 6.973, 197.74 def. Shane Gray, Camaro, 7.022, 196.42; QUARTERFINALS -- Nobile, 6.988, 197.36 def. Edwards, 6.999, 197.68; Gaines, 6.965, 197.54 def. Morgan, 7.018, 196.13; Line, 7.011, 196.24 def. Krisher, 6.996, 196.19; A. Johnson, 6.945, 198.15 def. Anderson, 6.988, 197.13; SEMIFINALS -- Gaines, 6.972, 197.62 def. Nobile, 7.112, 192.69; A. Johnson, 6.936, 198.17 def. Line, 6.971, 196.64; FINAL -- A. Johnson, 6.951, 197.31 def. Gaines, 7.144, 160.35.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE
ROUND ONE -- Michael Ray, Buell, 7.419, 176.01 def. Mike Berry, Buell, 7.322, 181.47; Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 7.263, 181.59 def. Matt Smith, Buell, foul; Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 7.246, 185.13 def. Shawn Gann, Buell, 7.330, 182.01; Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, 7.304, 181.79 def. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 7.359, 181.20; Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 7.246, 184.55 def. Michael Phillips, Suzuki, 7.418, 180.62; Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 7.237, 184.90 def. Angie Smith, Buell, foul; Matt Guidera, Buell, 7.434, 179.56 def. Hector Arana, Buell, 7.495, 183.27; LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 7.801, 133.62 def. Jerry Savoie, Buell, foul; QUARTERFINALS -- Stoffer, 7.370, 180.31 def. Guidera, 7.486, 177.44; Hines, 7.263, 183.29 def. Pollacheck, 7.378, 179.78; Krawiec, 7.283, 183.89 def. Tonglet, 7.373, 179.44; Arana Jr, 7.246, 183.15 def. Ray, 7.515, 157.65; SEMIFINALS -- Hines, 7.270, 182.90 def. Stoffer, 7.318, 180.33; Krawiec, 7.286, 183.22 def. Arana Jr, 11.152, 73.39; FINAL -- Krawiec, 7.301, 182.28 def. Hines, foul.