Leah Pritchett NEWS
Pritchett eager to begin testing with DSR team for 2017 after FireAde team finishes No. 7 in points despite late start
POMONA, Calif. - Leah Pritchett's whirlwind season ended sooner than the Southern California native wanted, but it was the close of a remarkable year for the first-year Don Schumacher Racing driver.
The 28-year-old native of Redlands, Calif., and her FireAde 2000 Personal Fire Suppression Systems team lost in a close race in Sunday's second round of the NHRA Finals at Pomona, Calif., on a track where she visited as a fan before she began driving NHRA Jr. Dragsters at the age of 8.
"What a season it's been," said Pritchett, who won her first Top Fuel title at the year's second race with another organization and then earned the first No. 1 qualifying honor of her career early last month at Reading, Pa., with her DSR team led by crew chief Todd Okuhara and assistant Joe Barlam.
"I'm still taking it all in now that the 2016 season is over," said Pritchett, who competed in her 15th race with DSR and fourth with sponsor FireAde.
"We came to Pomona with a huge amount of momentum. A whole bunch of other teams were looking forward to this race and it being the end of the season, but our team really were not."
Pritchett's team qualified for the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoff by one point and will finish her first full-time season ranked seventh in points. She qualified in the top-five at the last four races including the No. 1 qualifying position at Reading, Pa., followed by being second at the next two races.
"We had a late start and didn't start the fourth Top Fuel team at DSR until a couple weeks before we raced at Atlanta. We're really ramping up and getting going.
"We had six solid runs in a row at this race; that's stout. There is no complaint department here. I am incredibly proud of my team. We're not hanging our heads low by any means.
"The progression this team has made shows we are a championship caliber team.
"I am at DSR full time next year and that's an exciting prospect to have. That's a huge sigh of relief and there are a couple of new performance changes that we're looking to test. I can't wait to be back racing in 11 weeks."
Event winner: Doug Kalitta (Kalitta Motorsports)
No. 1 qualifier: J.R. Todd (Kalitta Motorsports) 3.680-track record, 327.82 mph
LEAH PRITCHETT, FireAde 2000 Personal Fire Suppression Systems
Crew chief: Todd Okuhara; assistant: Joe Barlam
Qualified: No. 5
First round: PRITCHETT (3.766, 321.96) def. Terry McMillen (3.872, 275.96)
Second round: Antron Brown (3.756, 320.97) def. PRITCHETT (3.760, 326.87)
FRIDAY: 3.797 sec., 314.46 mph, (Session 1); 3.726, 328.62, (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 3.758, 325.53, (Session 3); 3.715, 327.90, (Session 4)
2016 NHRA Countdown to the Championship Top Fuel standings - FINAL
(Unofficial after Pomona 2; 24 of 24 events; wins in parenthesis; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. ANTRON BROWN (7) 2663 ---- 2016 WORLD CHAMPION
2. Doug Kalitta (4) 2533 -130
3. Steve Torrence 2482 -181
4. J.R. Todd (1) 2455 -208
5. SHAWN LANGDON (3) 2443 -220
6. Brittany Force (3) 2399 -264
7. LEAH PRITCHETT (1) 2389 -274
8. TONY SCHUMACHER (2) 2387 -276
9. Richie Crampton 2279 -384
10. Clay Millican 2264 -399