Leah Pritchett Backs Up Her NHRA Record Run with a Win
When the nation's top teams rolled into to Brainerd MN this week for the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, it just felt like records could be broken. After all, racing fans come in droves when the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series shows up at the Brainerd International Raceway. The spectator camping area known as the "Zoo" fills with speed freaks and the Minnesota countryside comes to life. Leah Pritchett got the ball rolling in Friday's qualification run with the quickest pass in NHRA history with a 3.640-second run in her Papa John's Pizza dragster. With a top speed of 330.63 mph, Pritchett broke her own Top Fuel record time of 3.658 seconds set earlier this year at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park.
Pritchett knows you don't get a Wally for a "fast pass" in qualifying, so it would all be in vain without a win. Pritchett, who started the year on a winning streak, trailed Top Fuel points leader Antron Brown by 89 points entering Sunday's race. Brown made his 10th final round appearance of the season by defeating the second-seeded driver in the points, Steve Torrence, in the semifinals. But, the weekend belonged to Pritchett as Leah smoked her Don Schumacher Racing teammate in the final run with a 3.862 second pass. It was her fourth Top Fuel victory of the season and moved her to 60 points behind Brown for the 2017 season.
Another milestone was reached in Funny Car, when Alexis DeJoria collected her first win of the season and her fifth career win. It was the 250th Wally presented to a woman in NHRA history. DeJoria toppled Tommy Johnson Jr. in her Tequila Patron Toyota Camry posting a top speed of 330.96 mph with a 3.906-second pass. DeJoria had eliminated Tim Wilkerson, Cruz Pedregon and 16-time world champion John Force before making it to her first NHRA Mello Yello final appearance of the season. The win moved DeJoria into the top ten in points where multi-time champion Ron Capps holds a significant lead.
The Lucas Oil National was the 17th of 24 rounds, as teams head to Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis for the 63rd annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals. The world's biggest drag race gets underway on August 30 with Pro Finals rapping up on Monday, September 4th. Look for E3 racing fans to turn out in numbers for this legendary "Labor Day" event.