Leah Pritchett NEWS
PAPA JOHN'S PIZZA, PRITCHETT RETURN TO DSR GOLD DRAGSTER, ADVANCE TO CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND, MOVE UP TO NO. 2 IN POINTS
BRISTOL, Tenn. (June 18, 2017) - Leah Pritchett is a fierce competitor and she carries a demonic manner when racing her gold Papa John's Pizza Top Fuel dragster on the 24-race NHRA Mello Yello Series circuit that has seen her visit the winner's circle three times this season.
After spending Wednesday and Thursday at the annual Papa John's Pizza Sports Summit in Louisville and at the famed Churchill Downs horse racing track, Pritchett arrived to Bristol Dragway eager to return to her gold Papa John's Pizza dragster colors at Thunder Valley.
"We definitely had a challenging weekend here at Bristol, I mean coming into race day we didn't make it to the finish line under full power," Pritchett said after advancing to her fourth final round appearance of the season. "Objective No. 1 was getting our tune-up right. We're still working to perfect a hot track tune-up and Todd (Okuhara) and Joe (Barlam) learned a lot here at Bristol."
Pritchett led the DSR Top Fuel trio in qualifying at Thunder Valley starting in the No. 3 position and bested rookie Troy Coughlin Jr., veteran Scott Palmer, who fouled at the start in round two, and former teammate Shawn Langdon, before a narrow final round loss to fan favorite Clay Millican, who earned his first career NHRA win in his home state of Tennessee after 254 NHRA starts.
"A combination of luck and trial-and-error and we moved back up to second and that's good," Pritchett, who trails Top Fuel leader Steve Torrence by 11 points, added. "We're in this fight to keep it tight all season long. It was a good day.
"I want to say congratulations to Clay (Millican). That was a hard-fought win. He's been racing for many years and the first one is always sweet. So, congrats to that entire team. It was a very deserving win and a pretty decent weekend for this Papa John's team with Mopar and Pennzoil."
Leah and the Papa John's Pizza team will return to the friendly confines of home near Indianapolis for a few days before making the five-hour drive to Norwalk, Ohio for next weekend's lone NHRA event in the Buckeye State, June 23-25. The Norwalk race marks the halfway point of the 2017 season.
"I think all the NHRA teams are feeling the effects of this June swing," Leah said. "Three straight with one more to go at Norwalk next weekend and we have to dig deep. We're all hot and tired and I think going to a lower elevation and cooler temps next weekend in Ohio should play into our hands. This is a marathon even though June feels like a sprint and this Papa John's team is in a great position."
Event winner: Clay Millican (Stringer Motorsports)
No. 1 qualifier: Steve Torrence (CAPCO Contractors) 3.770 sec., 319.29 mph
LEAH PRITCHETT, Papa John's Pizza Top Fuel dragster
Crew chief: Todd Okuhara; Assistant: Joe Barlam
Qualified: No. 3
First round: PRITCHETT (4.378 sec., 186.51 mph) def. Troy Coughlin Jr. (4.497, 189.26)
Second round: PRITCHETT 7.094, 84.32) def. Scott Palmer (redlight, disqualification)
Semifinals: PRITCHETT (3.798, 319.90) def. Shawn Langdon (3.901, 308.0)
Final: Clay Millican (3.825, 316.38) def. PRITCHETT (3.881, 307.09))
FRIDAY: 3.842 sec., 309.34 mph, (Session 1); 3.817, 274.33, (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 7.835, 66.80, (Session 3); 3.795, 288.03, (Session 4)
2017 NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES TOP FUEL STANDINGS
(Unofficial after Bristol, Tenn.; 11th of 24 events; wins in parenthesis; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. Steve Torrence (3) 954 -----
2. LEAH PRITCHETT (3) 943 -11
3. ANTRON BROWN (2) 934 -20
4. TONY SCHUMACHER (1) 801 -143
5. Doug Kalitta 678 -276
6. Brittany Force (1) 649 -305
7. Clay Millican (1) 639 -315
8. Troy Coughlin Jr. 443 -511
9. Scott Palmer 432 -522
10. Terry McMillen 424 -530