Saturday highlights: Leah Pritchett posts blistering 334.73 mph Top Fuel pass at NHRA Spring Training
OK, so it won’t make the record book, but Leah Pritchett delivered a rather quick message to her Top Fuel competitors in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series on Saturday.
Pritchett turned in the fastest pass of day four of the NHRA Nitro Spring Training at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, Arizona.
And what a pass it was: Pritchett covered the 1,000-foot Phoenix-area track in her Mopar Dodge dragster at an unofficial record speed of 334.73 mph. Since the speed was part of a test session, it will not go in the books as an official record. The quickest official Top Fuel pass in competition — the record — is 334.15 mph and was recorded by Shawn Langdon at Reading, Pennsylvania, in 2012.
“It’s incredibly huge,” said Pritchett, who closed out her first full year as a member of Don Schumacher Racing with a career-best four wins and a top-five points finish in 2017.
“I had a smile from ear-to-ear — 250-feet into the run it had a nice little chatter to it. That’s the first real indication that it’s going to be on a full pull from the tune-up standpoint. It took us three days to be able to formulate a new tune-up for the additional amount of power this Mopar Dodge team was able to find in the off-season. On our fourth day of testing, we were able to lay it down, and, man, we needed that. That run right there was what we needed as a team to go into Pomona hot.”
While improving elapsed time (E.T.) is the goal first and foremost, assistant crew chief Joe Barlam shares Pritchett’s confidence-boosting sentiment.
“It’s always good to run fastest,” said Barlam, who assisted crew chief Todd Okuhara in tuning Pritchett to the second quickest E.T. (3.640-secs) in NHRA history in 2017.
“Of course it’s just testing, but it’s good to go into Pomona knowing we’re able to run those numbers. Hopefully, it’ll go faster yet.”
Officially, Pritchett’s 332.75-mph pass from the 2017 St. Louis event is her career best, and rounds out the list of NHRA’s 10 fastest Top Fuel speeds.
Current Top Fuel world champion Brittany Force ran the second quickest pass of the day with a 3.692 at 327.43 in her Monster Energy dragster. Mike Salinas rounds out the top three with a pass of 3.733 at 325.53.
Matt Hagan led the Funny Car class with a pass of 3.843 at 332.84 in his Mopar Express Dodge Charger R/T. Current Funny Car world champion Robert Hight ran a pass of 3.880 at 332.02 in his Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS.
In Pro Stock, Erica Enders ran a 6.572 at 208.97 in her Melling Performance / Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro. Greg Anderson wheeled to a pass of 6.595 at 209.20 in his Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaro.
The Mello Yello Drag Racing Series will begin on Friday, February 9, with the Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals presented by ProtectTheHarvest.com in Pomona, California.