Chandler, AZ- Leah Pritchett and Courtney Force showed the boys how it’s done on the second day of Nitro Spring Training at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, setting the pace in Top Fuel and Funny Car, respectively. Force had day’s “wow!” moment when she powered her Advance Auto Parts Chevy Camaro to a 3.804, unofficially the quickest elapsed time in Funny Car history. Pritchett, meanwhile, charted a dazzling 3.677, unofficially the fourth quickest in Top Fuel history.
Pritchett’s fine outing continued her love affair with Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, where last season she scored her first career Top Fuel win, continued into 2017 as the driver of the Papa John’s dragster for Don Schumacher Racing. Tuned by Todd Okuhara and Joe Barlam, the gold dragster was the class of the fuel dragster field with the two quickest runs over the first days, preceding her 3.67 with a 3.685.
“I’ll be honest, it’s pretty cool, but ultimately, it’s not Pomona, right?” said Pritchett. “It’s not qualifying. What it means to me is all the hard work that the Papa John’s team has put in this entire off-season came to fruition. Now for us, it’s about our incremental numbers. Yes, we clocked our best career time, 3.68 this morning. We were like, ‘Alright, that’s good’. Yesterday we had even better numbers, and then today we solidified it with our 3.67, another career best e.t. for me. It means a lot, but one thing for sure that I’m focusing on this year is not getting ahead of myself, on not getting too hyped up on those things. That’s because Todd Okuhara and Joe, they know what they’re doing, they spent a lot of time on creating power for this motor, and now it’s finally starting to show. So that’s what it means to me is that they’ve done a kick ass job and now we’re putting it on the track.”
National record holder Steve Torrence joined Pritchett in the 3.6-second range with 3.691 from his Capco Contractor dragster. Doug Kalitta out down a pair of fine runs in the Mac Tools machine at 3.703 and 3.716 while Brittany Force was not only quick but consist with a quartet of passes: 3.739, 3.734, 3.729, and a final (and best) 3.704. Force and crew chief Danny Hood were spectacular Friday with four full passes, three of which topped the sheets. In addition to her jaw-dropping 3.804, she also recorded runs of 3.841, 3.847, and 3.865.
"It's a pretty crazy experience," Force said. "It was exciting to hear the guys come on the radio and tell me what the car ran. I didn't think I heard them correctly, so I didn't get overly excited at first. I know this Advance Auto Parts Camaro made a good pass, but I didn't think it was a 3.80. It's crazy, and even though it is an unofficial national record since we are testing."
"I'm still excited about it. That's a huge number for us to put on the board. We made two 3.84 passes today, which is pretty awesome. We are excited to be able to deliver this kind of performance for Advance Auto Parts. We are thrilled to be running so good in testing. I'm ready to get the season going."
Reigning world champ Ron Capps also had a good day, clocking passes of 3.854 and 3.861. Force’s teammate, Robert Hight, was in the mix, too, with a best pass of 3.859.