Those who tuned in to ESPN’s Sunday evening broadcast of the NHRA’s Mopar Mile-High Nationals at the Bandimere Speedway near Denver, Colorado have already seen a number of replays, but for those who missed the show, they also missed seeing Pro Stock racer Matt Hartfords’ wild top-end excursion that left his Total Seal-sponsored Dodge Avenger beaten and battered.
Hartford, the No. 13 qualifier with his 7.058 best elapsed time at 196.79 mph in the thin mile-high air, was paired with young Rickie Jones in the first round of eliminations on Sunday morning. Jones, with the performance advantage in hand, gained a scant .028 to .037 edge out of the gate and steadily began to pull away from Hartford’s machine early in the match. Hartford, who is competing part-time in the Pro Stock ranks this season in a Haas-built car formerly campaigned by V. Gaines and with power from esteemed engine builder David Nickens, began to drift out of the groove toward the centerline at mid-track, and hung with it to try and run down Jones. After collecting the half track timing blocks, Hartford attempted to wrangle the Avenger back into his lane, but the momentum was already carrying the car into the left hand retaining wall and Hartford was all but along for the ride.
Fortunately for Hartford, the tires didn’t dig into the sticky racing surface and flip the car onto its roof following the initial contact with the wall, instead sliding sideways across the finish line before tapping the opposite guardrail and coming to rest. Hartford climbed from the race car under his own power and checked out okay with medical personnel. According to reports from the team, the car is already on its way to the chassis shop for repairs in an effort to return by the NHRA U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis over Labor Day weekend.
(Video credit: ESPN/NHRA)