Female Racer Says “The Strip” feels like a Home Track
LAS VEGAS -- (Oct. 29, 2015) – Veteran drag racer Leah Pritchett is more relaxed than usual for her return to the popular “Strip” at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
It must have something to do with her past winning performances and the familiarity with the state-of-the-art drag racing facility north of downtown Las Vegas.
Pritchett, the 27-year-old California native, brings the new Black Magic/Dote Racing Top Fuel dragster to Las Vegas for the annual NHRA Toyota Nationals with a calmness and confidence.
“I have to think of the ‘Strip’ at Las Vegas as my actual home track,” said Pritchett, making her final 2016 NHRA national event appearance this weekend (Oct. 30 – Nov. 1). “I am pretty sure I have more passes down that track than anywhere else during my career dating back to age eight in Junior Dragsters. It’s been a great place for me. I have a calmness there when I drive into the pit area every time.”
Part of Pritchett’s familiarity also comes from finishing on the top step of the winner’s circle podium too.
With many victories in Junior Dragsters and taking a NHRA national event win in the ProMod division in 2011, Leah believes her dragster will be one of the top contenders this weekend.
“Last year, we advanced to the semi-finals and lost to the eventual winner in a very close race,” Leah explains. “Our tuner Rob Flynn has won races in Top Fuel and Funny Car at the ‘Strip’ and he just won the Bakersfield event last weekend in the Nostalgia Funny Cars. So I think Rob, Doug Kuch (crew chief) and the whole team is confident coming back to Las Vegas.”
Pritchett qualified fifth last year at Las Vegas and comes to this weekend’s event after a career best qualifying performance of second at Reading, Pa., a few weeks ago. In addition, Pritchett advanced to the semi-finals at Charlotte last month. Earlier this year, Leah made her first Top Fuel final round appearance.
“Last year we came to Las Vegas in the ‘spoiler’ role and knocked off a few of the contenders in the NHRA Points Countdown,” said Pritchett. “I think we’ll be in that role again. While our Dote Racing isn’t a full time effort (for all 24 races), the Top Fuel field knows that we can be strong at Las Vegas. I’m not sure some of those top points drivers want to match up early against us this weekend. We would love to finish up the season with a strong performance and take home the ‘Wally’ trophy on Sunday.”
Pritchett begins action at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway Friday (Oct. 30) with qualifying (1 and 4:30 p.m. PDT). Final eliminations are set for Sunday (Nov. 1) at 11 a.m. PDT.