Leah Pritchett earned her first NHRA Top Fuel win Sunday at the Carquest Auto Parts NHRA Nationals in Phoenix, Ariz. Tim Wilkerson (Funny Car) and Jason Line (Pro Stock) also picked up victories at the event. Pritchett used a quicker reaction time and a 3.775-sec run at 323.12 mph in to finish in front of Brittany Force’s 3.774 at 321.35. It was the first all-female Top Fuel final since Shirley Muldowney defeated Lucille Lee in 1982 in Columbus.
Pritchett outran J.R. Todd, Clay Millican, and Antron Brown in the first three rounds before defeating Force in the final. She is the 16th woman to win a Mello Yello Series race and the eighth female driver to win in the Top Fuel category. “It is the happiest day of my life, besides getting married, of course,” said Pritchett, who posted a runner-up finish in her only other Top Fuel final, last season in Atlanta. “This is what dreams are made of. I feel like I just won the Super Bowl, even though it’s only the second race and it’s not the US Nationals. For me, it’s an incredible personal and professional victory to be able to compete with the team that I’m with.”
Pritchett moved to fifth in the points standings with the win. Event top qualifier Doug Kalitta, who lost a close race to Force in the semi’s, is the points leader, eight ahead of Winternationals winner Steve Torrence, who was upset in the opening round.
Wilkerson earned his 19th career Funny Car victory and first in Phoenix, taking out longtime rival John Force with a run of 3.937 at 320.43. Force trailed with a 4.016 at 275.34. “I am just happy to be here,” said Wilkerson, who moves to fifth in the points order with the win. “We’re very excited about what happened here today. That’s the best run we had all weekend [in the final].”
Line beat Chris McGaha for the Pro Stock victory with a 6.666 at 205.16 in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro while McGaha’s Camaro posted a 6.671 at 208.75. It was Line’s second consecutive final-round appearance of the season, and the two-time world champ takes over the series points lead.
The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series continues Mar, 17-20 with the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Florida’s Gainesville Raceway.
For full story and standings click here.