PRITCHETT'S DREAM SEASON ROLLS ON AS SHE CLAIMS FOURTH VICTORY OF 2017
Top Fuel standout Leah Pritchett ran the table in a big way this weekend at Minnesota's Brainerd International Raceway, establishing a new national elapsed time record of 3.640-seconds at 330.63 mph during qualifying to become the quickest driver in the history of the NHRA.
With her momentum on overdrive, Pritchett rolled through eliminations Sunday by taking out Rob Passey, Scott Palmer and Clay Millican before lining up beside Don Schumacher Racing teammate and defending class champion Antron Brown in the final.
Pritchett laid down a pass of 3.682, 328.06 to take the win light over Brown, who coasted through with a mark of 4.001, 246.35 after hazing his tires and slowing as he approached the top end of the track.
It was the fourth win of the season for the driver of the Papa John's Pizza Top Fueler, and the fifth of her career. Adding to the historical significance of her accomplishment at Brainerd was the fact that Pritchett and Funny Car winner Alexis DeJoria became the first two female drivers to win in the nitro classes at the same event. Her win also tied the single season win mark set by Top Fuel pioneer Shirley Muldowney.
"That is something to be incredibly proud of," Pritchett said. "Shirley was an incredible racer, and she was as tough as nails. A true legend.
“Don Schumacher has given me the best team, in my opinion,” Pritchett said. “We keep continuing to prove that. I really like that these numbers and their work ethic and the consistency really backs it up when I say we have the best team because we have the best hot rod. To go multiple times backing up our national record and doing so many other amazing things this season has just been incredible. The only thing that would be better would be if we could see this marathon all the way through to the end of the season.
"In the meantime, we're really going to enjoy this win because those guys really, really deserve it."
When asked how much confidence changing back to the clutch disc package the team utilized at the beginning of the season, and the subsequent record-setting performance they achieved this weekend, gave her heading into the Countdown, Pritchett had this to say:
"That definitely gives us a lot of confidence, but in the meantime we have worked on a couple of different things, specifically in the blower program and getting our chassis back to how it was at the beginning of the season. So, as we made small climbs without having that clutch disc package in, putting that back in and everything coming together technically all worked to put those numbers on the track.
"So, yeah, that confidence is there. You never thought that you could be in love with a clutch disc before, but we are"!