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Pritchett caps perfect weekend

by Bill Cawthon on

After setting a new all-time national ET record and taking the top spot in the Top Fuel order for all four rounds of qualifying, Leah Pritchett won her fourth Wally of the season at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in Brainerd, Minnesota.

Leah Pritchett owned the track at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in Brainerd, Minnesota.

Despite a slower start, Pritchett’s solid, 3.682-second pass took the win over Antron Brown, her Don Schumacher Racing teammate and the current Top Fuel points leader, who began hazing the tires shortly after the start.

Pritchett’s win puts her just 29 points behind Steve Torrence for second place and 60 points out of the lead.

Tony Schumacher came up short in his quarterfinals matchup with Clay Millican. Schumacher remains fourth in the standings.

The Dodge drought continued in Funny Car. After a streak of ten consecutive victories ended with the Route 66 Nationals, it has been four winless events split between Chevrolet and Toyota. Alexis DeJoria picked up her first Wally of the season and moved into the top ten with a win over Tommy Johnson Jr.

Tommy Johnson Jr. faced off against Alexis DeJoria in the final round of Funny Car eliminations.

Johnson and the Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger made their fourth final round appearance in the last five events and passed Jack Beckman to take fourth place in the driver standings. Beckman fell to John Force when he lost traction almost immediately in the quarterfinals.

After qualifying second, Matt Hagan was looking forward to a good day. Unfortunately, that day ended before he could make his first run. After staging, the engine in Hagan’s Mopar-sponsored Charger died, giving Cruz Pedregon a pass to the quarterfinals.

Not only did Hagan’s misfortune cost him second place in the standings when Robert Hight made it to the semifinals; Pedregon’s round win will make it tougher for Jim Campbell, driver of the Jim Dunne Racing Charger, to make the top ten. Campbell toasted the tires at the hit and lost to John Force in the opening round.

Ron Capps, the leader in the points race, lost to Hight in the quarterfinals, which will cut into his lead, as will the qualifying points Hight racked up. With the extra points awarded at the U.S. Nationals, Capps will need to make a good showing to stay in front of the pack.

Allen Johnson made it to the Pro Stock quarterfinals where he was 13 feet behind Greg Anderson at the finish. The round win and qualifying points let Johnson make up some ground on Chris McGaha, who didn’t compete this weekend, and add a bit more security to his bid for the Countdown to the Championship. Johnson is currently in tenth place.

Alan Prusiensky will have to have a spectacular performance at the U.S. Nationals to have a shot at the Countdown. Prusiensky lost to Drew Skillman in the first round.

Top Fuel
1. Antron Brown – 1,513 – 4 wins
2. Steve Torrence – 1,482 – 6 wins
3. Leah Pritchett – 1,453 – 4 wins
4. Tony Schumacher – 1,121 – 1 win

5. Brittany Force – 1,052 – 1 win
6. Doug Kalitta – 1,038
7. Clay Millican – 1,014 – 1 win
8. Terry McMillen – 722
9. Scott Palmer – 679
10. Troy Coughlin Jr. – 576

Funny Car
1. Ron Capps – 1,383 – 6 wins
2. Robert Hight – 1,247 – 2 wins
3. Matt Hagan – 1,214 – 3 wins
4. Tommy Johnson Jr. – 1,180 – 1 win
5. Jack Beckman – 1,160 – 2 wins

6. Courtney Force – 1,012
7. John Force – 954 – 1 win
8. Tim Wilkerson – 792
9. J.R. Todd – 788 – 1 win
10. Alexis DeJoria (1) – 664

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for just-auto.com, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.


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