Qualified: No. 2 (3.694 E.T. at 322.88 MPH)
E1: 3.753 E.T. at 319.90 MPH defeated Scott Palmer 3.813 E.T. at 312.50 MPH
E2: 3.748 E.T. at 323.12 MPH defeated Jordan Vandergriff 18.760 E.T. at 59.83 MPH
E3: 3.908 E.T. at 302.08 MPH defeated by Doug Kalitta 3.730 E.T. at 331.85 MPH
Top Fuel standout Leah Pritchett got her start competing in NHRA’s Jr. Drag Racing series at age eight, and on Sunday at the Auto Club NHRA Finals, she wrapped up her 23rd consecutive NHRA season with a fourth-place finish in the 2019 NHRA Mello Yello Top Fuel championship rankings.
Pritchett started race day qualified second, and while mathematically she was no longer in the 2019 title hunt, the Redlands, Calif. native had her sights set on finishing out the year with a victory at her hometown track. She opened eliminations with a round win against Scott Palmer and then powered the MOPAR Dodge Top Fuel Dragster to the quickest run of round two to dispatch Jordan Vandergriff and earn a bid to the semifinals. Against Doug Kalitta, Pritchett had a hole out as soon as she stood on the throttle, and the eventual race winner was able to drive away with a clean pass for the win.
Pritchett’s semifinal finish enabled her to advance from fifth up to fourth in the standings, tying her career-best finish (2018) in her fourth playoff run.
“On a high note, we had our best Countdown performance yet. We didn’t have any first-round losses, but on the other hand, the semifinals were as far as we went. We definitely have room for improvement, but most impressively, our hot rod has been very responsive. We dropped a cylinder right at the hit in the semifinals against Doug (Kalitta), but we’ll get to the bottom of what caused that. In all, it was a satisfactory race day. We’re looking forward to making more MOPAR-power and putting it to the ground next year, and we can’t wait to get back here in February. This team is dedicated to improving and reigniting our championship chase next year. We’re focusing on the positives and working to improve on our weaknesses.”
Source: Don Schumacher Racing Press Release