SEATTLE (Aug. 6, 2017) - Leah Pritchett and the Papa John's Pizza/FireAde/PACCAR Top Fuel dragster team was able to get closer to the points leader in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, but after focusing on chasing Steve Torrence since late June she has a new target at the top.
Pritchett advanced to the semifinals Sunday in the NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways near Seattle and Torrence was upset in the first round.
But her Don Schumacher Racing teammate Antron Brown who won the Seattle title to take the lead after Torrence for his second title on the three-race Western Swing.
Ironically, Pritchett lost to Terry McMillen who also knocked out Torrence. McMillen also ended Pritchett's day two weeks ago at Sonoma, Calif.
"Terry had a great car all day," said Pritchett who trails Brown by 76 points and Torrence by 63. "Our team doesn't care who's in first place if it isn't us. We want to be back on top."
Pritchett, who was the top qualifier the past two weeks on the Swing, qualified third and opened with a 3.729-second run in the opening round.
In the second round against DSR teammate Tony Schumacher, she was quicker to regain traction after Schumacher went up in smoke just off the starting line.
"Both of our DSR cars did very similar things on the track, smoking the tires. Ultimately, our Papa John's team turned on the win light first in what had to be the most exciting race of the day for the fans.
"All in all it was a solid outing for us in the Northwest Nationals to wrap up our Western Swing. Not quite as solid as we were hoping for of course. We really wanted to face Antron in the final round.
"We've struggled a little bit on these hot racetracks but it's something we're going see more.
Ultimately, this team can't wait to get back on a cold racetrack.
"Overall, we're happy that the Swing is over. We gave it absolutely our very best shot in every way. Our engine program isn't as happy in these hot conditions, and we're continuing to work on that."
The series is off next week before heading to Brainerd, Minn., and a week later to the U.S. Nationals over Labor Day Weekend near Indianapolis when the 18-race regular season ends and the top 10 drivers to qualify for the six-race Countdown to the Championships.
The following are Sunday's eliminations results from Seattle and current Mello Yello standings:
Event winner: Antron Brown (Don Schumacher Racing)
No. 1 qualifier: Brown, 3.735 sec., 329.10 mph
LEAH PRITCHETT, Papa John's Pizza/FireAde/PACCAR Top Fuel dragster - 3x winner, five finals in 2017
Crew chief: Todd Okuhara; Assistant: Joe Barlam
SUNDAY CHAMPIONSHIP ELIMINATIONS
First round: PRITCHETT (3.729 sec., 314.46 mph) def. Shawn Reed (3.964, 313.22)
Second round: PRITCHETT (5.062, 157.72) def. Tony Schumacher (6.483, 130.67)
Semifinals: Terry McMillen (3.822, 315.42) def. PRITCHETT (3.888, 306.40)
Qualified: No. 3
FRIDAY: 4.112 sec., 226.20 mph, (first session); 3.891, 288.70, (second session)
SATURDAY: 3.755, 325.30, (third session); 6.029, 112.65, (fourth session)
SEATTLE BY THE NUMBERS
Last event (July 30), Sonoma, Calif.: Qualified No. 1, lost in second round to Terry McMillen
A year ago at Seattle: Qualified No. 8, lost in first round to Morgan Lucas
Career at Seattle: Wins 0; Runner-ups 0; Poles 0
2017 NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES TOP FUEL STANDINGS
(Official after Seattle; 16 of 24 events: wins in parenthesis; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. ANTRON BROWN (4) 1,418 -----
2. Steve Torrence (6) 1,405 -13
3. LEAH PRITCHETT (3) 1,329 -76
4. TONY SCHUMACHER (1) 1,064 -341
5. Brittany Force (1) 992 -413
6. Doug Kalitta 977 -428
7. Clay Millican (1) 937 -468
8. Terry McMillen 690 -715
9. Scott Palmer 606 -799
10.Troy Coughlin Jr. 560 -845