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Looking Forward to Winternationals | Leah Pritchett

Looking Forward to Winternationals

POSTED BY: Leah Pritchett in BLOG

Hi again, prepared for the 55th NHRA Circle K Winternationals. To say that I am excited for the 2015 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series would be an understatement. Driving a 330 mile-per-hour nitro-burning dragster, I need to calm down and take everything one step at a time.

I always get excited for the first race of the year dating back to my Junior Dragster days and growing up in Redlands.

Our Dote Racing team concluded the 2014 season in Las Vegas at the NHRA Toyota Nationals last November with a strong performance in the Gumout Top Fuel dragster.

We ran my best time of 3.75 seconds and we scored wins over Antron Brown and Brittany Force to advance to the semi-finals against Spencer Massey. We gave Spencer a good race and lost in a close on and Massey went on to win the “The Wally” that day.

So, it felt great to finish up the year on a positive note in the first season with the Gumout sponsorship.

In addition, at Las Vegas, we took delivery of an all-new Hadman dragster chassis in preparation of the 2015 campaign. With the new car, we felt the Hadman would increase our competitiveness for this year.

So, we were really in a “learning curve” with the new chassis and we recently traveled to West Palm Beach, Fla., for several days of testing. The cockpit is a little different that the old one. I laid down in the old McKinney car a bit more than the Hadman chassis. I’m sitting up in the new one and we had to add some padding for the lower portion of the seat. That supports my lumbar region better.

But I can see more out of the car than before and I believe that will help me.

This off-season has been packed with all of the “not-so” glamorous things that go on behind the scenes. As hard as the crew works, their apparel works just as hard, and I feel like the beginning of the season is really Christmas for the team.

New shirts, polo, sweatshirts, jackets, and hats for the team have been laid out with the updated Gumout and Black Magic logos, as well as a new major associate sponsor, which I can’t officially reveal until today at the track. Shopping for these items, laying out the embroidery design, getting logos digitized and making it all look uniform is not a small task.

We are proud to renew our partnerships with Gumout, Black Magic, FX Caprera car companies, Boninfante, Spectro Oils and Clevite, and announce new partnerships with ARP, Brown and Miller, Champion Spark Plugs, Starocket Media and Aerodyne composites. We greatly appreciate their involvement with Dote Racing and we hope to make them proud in 2015.

In our first test two weeks ago, we made a good number of runs. We intentionally don’t take the car to the finish line. That way the crew chiefs can learn if mechanisms on the car are working properly at the beginning of the run first.

While I was with my former team, R2B2, Roger Burgess made it clear – the difference between testing and practicing. When we go testing with the cars before an event, we are there to test new parts, products, devices, etc. Maybe it was a new style blower or turbo, or rocker gear, or engine combination, etc. There would also be times when we would rent the track, and go practicing. That meant it was time to fine tune the existing tune up we had and get our program race ready.

I consider our West Palm Beach test session a success due to the fact that our new systems and products worked well. But, most importantly, we gathered plenty of data to implement it into our current tune up.

On Wednesday, we had the NHRA Media Day with reporters and photographers a plenty. It’s great to get those things out of the way and debut the new apparel.

Now, today, we open the 2015 NHRA drag racing season and see if our new car and the data works on the track. I can’t wait for our 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. runs. Hope you can make it to the track and see us at the Winternationals this weekend.



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