Leah Pritchett dominated throughout qualifying at the Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals, securing her second consecutive Bandimere Speedway No. 1 qualifier, second consecutive pole of 2018 and 10th of her career. The Mopar Dodge 1320 Top Fuel dragster was arguably the most competitive car on the property on Friday and Saturday, with Pritchett running the best pass of each round in three out of four qualifying sessions, and the second-best pass in Q1.
Pritchett closed out Friday evening sitting in the top spot with her 3.806-second at 317.19-mph pass from Q2. Right out of the gate on Saturday, the Todd Okuhara/Joe Barlam-led team threw down a stout 3.813-second at 319.90-mph run. Pritchett, who entered the event with the track E.T. record (3.733-seconds) after securing the No. 1 spot in 2017, added the track speed record to her impressive list of accomplishments when she blasted to a 3.799-second at 327.19-mph lap in Q4, which held up to be low E.T. of the weekend.
Pritchett’s reign of dominance during qualifying at the Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals yielded 11 out of a possible 12 bonus points and the advantage of lane choice over round one opponent Terry Totten.
“We were definitely putting the coals to it for sure, licking our chops. We’re on the mountain, it’s our sponsor’s race, we’re giving it every single thing we’ve got. Just like when we went No. 1 in Epping, that last run was pretty interesting, and Q4 right here was real interesting,” said Pritchett, referring to her No. 1 qualifier from the previous event in Epping, N.H.
“We got a new front-half on our dragster after Epping, that’s typical after a certain number of runs, and I’m sure glad we did. At about halftrack I wasn’t sure if the front wheels were on the ground, that thing was just dancing and dancing, but I knew that we were cooking and getting it. The scoreboards are so far from the finish line at this track that you can pull the chutes, lift off the throttle and look right up at them. When I saw that 79, there’s very few times that you get to feel what your crew gets to feel when they see a number like that light up. It’s incredible, this game has been all about fuel curve for us and Todd and Joe have been patient with it and stepping up to it in the right ways.”
The 2017 Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals Top Fuel runner-up is confident her team’s qualifying success will translate into a long and victorious race day, ending with the Mopar Dodge 1320 Top Fuel dragster in the winner’s circle.
“We’ve mastered qualifying, but tomorrow is an absolute brand-new day. None of us have run during the day this weekend so we’re taking this data and we’re going to go right back to an entire year ago and take that data too. I couldn’t be more incredibly proud of my team. They’ve worked very hard to get us back where we were at, and the momentum that we had and we’re looking forward to rolling up this mountain.”
Qualified: No. 1 (lane choice)
The Competition: No. 16 Terry Totten
Q1: 3.970 E.T. at 310.34 MPH (Two bonus points for second quickest run of the session)
Q2: 3.806 E.T. at 317.19 MPH (Three bonus points for quickest run of the session)
Q3: 3.813 E.T. at 319.90 MPH (Three bonus points for quickest run of the session)
Q4: 3.799 E.T. at 327.19 MPH (Three bonus points for quickest run of the session)
Bonus Points: 11
DSR PR/Photo Credit NHRA Media