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Pritchett Captures First Career Top Fuel Win
Taking a turn in the Winners Circle at the NHRA event in Arizona this past weekend were, from left, Leah Pritchett, Top Fuel; Jason Line, Pro Stock; and Tim Wilkerson, Funny Car. Photo By Mike Burghardt


The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series made the short trip down Interstate 10 from Pomona to Phoenix for the 32nd Annual Carquest Auto Parts NHRA Nationals.

Top Fuel’s Leah Pritchett was on a mission after having red lighted in the first round two weeks ago in Pomona. She was not going to be denied as she wheeled her 10,000 horse power Quaker State top fuel dragster down the dragstrip. In the opening round Pritchett took on JR Todd and the Seal Master team. Both drivers got off the starting line quick and lost traction around 300 ft. Pritchett was able to feather the throttle enough to get out ahead and capture the round win with a 4.361 at 245 mph to a 4.612 at 168 mph. This paired her up with defending Top Fuel champion Antron Brown and the Matco Tools team. Brown left the starting line too quick, disqualifying him. Pritchett put up a 3.808 at 322 mph on the scoreboard. Her semifinal round opponent was Clay Millican and the Parts Plus/Great Clips team. Pritchett got off the starting line first and never looked back running a 3.832 at 317 mph to a 3.878 at 299 mph. That matched her up with Brittany Force and the Monster Energy Drink team, the second all female top fuel final in the history of the sport. Force had a solid car all day running 3.723 at 325 mph, 3.771 at 321 mph, and 3.760 at 319 mph to advance into the final round. Pritchett cut a .046 reaction time to Force’s .067. Force could not make up the distance as the two neared the finish line running a quicker but losing 3.775 at 323 mph to a 3.774 at 321 mph. It was Pritchett’s first win in Top Fuel.

In Funny Car it looked like John Force Racing was determined to capture their first win of the 2016 season as all three teams advanced to the final four. Tim Wilkerson and his Levi, Ray and Shoup Inc. Ford Mustang had other ideas. Wilkerson took on Robert Hight and the Auto Club Chevy Camaro. Hight lost traction almost immediately and Wilkerson cruised down the track with a 3.994 at 317 mph to advance to the final round. On the opposite side of the semifinal was John Force and his Peak Antifreeze Camaro taking on his daughter Courtney Force and her Traxxas Camaro. Courtney lost traction in the same spot as Hight and watched her father streak down the track with a 4.006 at 318 mph. In the final round Force got off the starting line first and was driving away when the blower exploded nearing the finish line slowing him to a 4.013 at 275. This was just enough for Wilkerson to fly by running a 3.937 at 320 mph capturing his 19th career win.

In Pro Stock the Summit Racing team dominated all weekend long capturing the top three qualifying positions. All three drivers Greg Anderson, Jason Line and Bo Buntner advanced to the semifinal round. Line got past Anderson when Anderson had to shut the car off early due to tire shake. Buntner was unable to hold off Chris McGaha as McGaha won on a hole shot. In the final round it was all Jason Line as he got off the starting line first and drove away running a 6.666 at 205 mph to a 6.671 at 208 mph. This was Line’s 38th career victory.

The next stop for the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series is Gainesville, FL for the 47th annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals March 17-20.