Pritchett Still Makes Top Half of the Top Fuel Field in 8th Spot
Leah Pritchett only went about 300 feet in her first qualifying run Friday afternoon before the rear tires of the bright-red Gumout dragster lost traction and she had to coast through the finish line at just 96 miles per hour. The hot (80s), humid air made for tough conditions for the Top Fuel crew chiefs in the first day of action at the legendary Auto Club Raceway at Gainesville.
Pritchett, the 26 year-old California native now residing in Avon, Ind., came back in the second round of Friday’s action with the Dote Racing machine to clock a 3.92 seconds at 303.16 mile per hour pass despite experiencing a little engine malfunction. Leah’s second run was quick enough for the 8th position in the 20-driver Top Fuel field.
“It was a very unusual day with the air and track conditions,” said Pritchett. “The first round of qualifying was tough on most of the Top Fuel teams. We lost traction in the first pass but the car felt much better in the second one. We dropped a cylinder in the second run or we could have had 3.85 or better. With a 20-car field here, we wanted to be sure to be in the top half of the field on Friday. We accomplished that and we’ll be ready for Saturday’s action now.”
Defending NHRA Mello Yello series champion Tony Schumacher paced the Top Fuel field Friday in qualifying with 3.79-second reading.
“People are saying that today’s track temperature was the hottest since last year at Texas in September,” Leah said. “We were in the first pair of cars in the second round Friday and we just weren’t sure how the track would hold up. Despite the cylinder going out, the new Gumout car handled well. I’m looking forward to Saturday’s qualifying as I think we learned a few things.”
The Top Fuel qualifications are set for 12:45 p.m. and 3:45 p.m. EDT Saturday. The Amalie NHRA Gatornationals final eliminations will begin at 11 a.m. Sunday with ESPN2 show at 7 p.m. EDT.
Tom Blattler, Sport Dimensions, Inc., 317-525-5692
Kinnon Marshall, Sport Dimensions, Inc., 805-701-1216