Mopar Express Lane NHRA Nationals
Presented by Pennzoil
Event 14 of 20
Countdown Event 1 of 7
Maple Grove Raceway
Sept. 10 - 12, 2021
Driver of the Mopar Dodge//SRT Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 5 (3.755 E.T. at 322.88 MPH)
E1: 3.933 E.T. at 253.37 MPH defeated Joe Morrison 4.331 E.T. at 224.36 MPH
E2: 3.897 E.T. at 318.84 MPH defeated by Josh Hart 3.759 E.T. at 325.53 MPH
Dodge//SRT Top Fuel pilot Leah Pruett was looking to take her 2020 U.S. Nationals runner-up finish one step further on Sunday in Indianapolis. She kicked off her weekend by powering to the fifth-quickest run in Q1 which set her up with a round-one match-up against Joe Morrison. Against Morrison, Pruett took her 11,000-horsepower rail straight down the groove to defeat her opponent who started dropping cylinders early into the run. In the quarterfinals, Pruett knew she was up against tricky track conditions in the right lane and made sure she gave herself every advantage. She ripped off a near-perfect reaction time, clocking a .002 light, but her machine encountered issues and began to slow, and Josh Hart was able to chase her down by halftrack for the win.
Pruett departs Indianapolis locked into the No. 4 spot to start her fourth Countdown to the Championship playoff run.
The U.S. Nationals is normally the biggest marathon of a race as we usually test right before it, take part in a number of events, and have five qualifying sessions and then race on Monday. It's been quite the opposite this year. This week we had just one qualifier and everybody got a real green track on race day. It was awesome to get through the first round with a very consistent car even with some issues at the top end power-wise.
It's no secret that the left lane is much more competitive to race on than the right lane, and we knew that going in. I sat in the car for almost fifty-five minutes against Josh Hart, as the Safety Safari did the best job that they could on track prep. This is where my team really comes together. I had a conversation with (crew chief) Neal (Strausbaugh) after forty minutes and after looking at the track, they didn't think we were going to make it off the line, so when they told me to 'do whatever you want to do as a driver,' I got excited. This is your time. This is the Dodge//SRT U.S. Nationals. Usually, as a driver you stage really shallow, you try to get the best E.T. that you can, but we wanted to take every advantage that we could. So, I took a pretty good chunk out there, thinking I could distract him. I went 0.002 but just didn't have enough power because we had to back down our HEMI to get down that right lane and it was not enough to get around Josh Hart in that second round.
Leaving here fourth in points, heading on into Reading for the Mopar Express Lane Nationals, and starting the Countdown from there, we feel good about that. Right now, we have the most capable and consistent car that we've had all year long and it’s responding to what we want it to do. And that's exactly where we want to be going into the Countdown.
Source: Don Schumacher Racing