The Mello Yello drag racing series made the short trek recently from Pomona, California to Phoenix, Arizona, home of Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park and the 33rd running of the NHRA Arizona Nationals.
In Top Fuel, Leah Pritchett and her Papa John’s Pizza team picked up where they left off two weeks ago in Pomona, by capturing their second win in a row and setting a new national elapse time record during qualifying with a 3.658 elapse time. On Sunday, Pritchett motored her way through the field. In the opening round, she would have a solo run but Pritchett put up a solid 3.694 @ 326 mph. In round two she took on the Great Clips/Parts Plus dragster of Clay Millican. Millican left the starting line with a slight advantage but lost traction and watched as Pritchett put a 3.692 @ 328 mph. She would then take on independent runner Shawn Reed. Reed, having a Cinderella story day, would fall short with his 3.944 @ 263 mph to Pritchett’s 3.729 @ 324 mph. Pritchett would then take on the Monster Energy team of Brittany Force, a rematch from one year ago, here at Wild Horse Pass. Force powered her way through the field with solid 3.676 @ 328 mph to advance past the Amalie Motor Oil dragster of Terry McMillan. She then took out defending series champion Antron Brown and the Matco Tools team with a 3.707 @ 327 mph. Her semifinal opponent was Tony ‘The Sarge’ Schumacher and the US Army team. Schumacher lost traction and could only watch as Force put a 3.701 @ 329 mph to advance to the final round. It would be Pritchett getting the better of Force off the starting line with a .053 reaction time to Force’s .081. Force put up a quicker but losing 3.704 @ 330 mph to Pritchett’s 3.705 @ 328 mph. This was Pritchett’s third career victory and second win at this event.
Matt Hagan ruled the Funny Car class for the second straight race on Sunday with his Sandvik Coromant Dodge Charger. Hagan’s first round match was against Cruz Pedregon and his Snap-on Tools Toyota. Hagan made quick work of Pedregon when his Toyota lost traction. Hagan put a 3.839 @ 332 mph on the scoreboard. Hagan would then take down Tim Wilkerson and the Levi, Ray, & Shoup team with a hole shot victory running a 3.883 @ 331 mph to a quicker but losing 3.871 @ 332 mph. In the semifinal round, he took on teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. and the Make-A-Wish Dodge. Hagan put a 3.867 @ 331 mph to a 3.887 @ 326 mph on the scoreboard to capture the round win. Hagan’s final round match up would be another teammate and reigning Funny Car champion Ron Capps and the NAPA team. Hagan ran a 3.878 @ 330 mph to Capp’s 3.883 at 330 mph to capture his 24th career victory, second win at Wild Horse Pass and second win to start the 2017 season.
In Pro Stock class the Summit Racing Equipment team proved to be the class of the field. Greg Anderson cruised through the field with a very consistent race car. In the opening round, he put up a 6.544 @ 211 mph to defeat Kenny Delco. In round two Anderson got a hole shot win over Shane Gray with a 6.559 @ 210 to a quicker but losing 6.556 @ 210 mph. In the semifinal round, Anderson took on anther Gray; this time it was Shane’s son Tanner Gray. The younger Gray would fall victim to Anderson’s 6.564 @ 210 mph to a 6.590 @ 210 mph. This would then match Anderson against Drew Skillman in the final round. Anderson laid down a 6.547 @ 211 mph to a 6.565 @ 210 mph, to capture his 87th career victory.
The next stop for the NHRA Mello Yello drag racing series is the 48th running of the Amalie motor oil NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, Florida March 16-19.