Driver of the Okuma Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 8 (3.776 E.T. at 327.82 MPH)
E1: 4.736 E.T. at 137.39 MPH defeated by T.J. Zizzo 3.821 E.T. at 313.22 MPH
The 2018 Route 66 NHRA Nationals Top Fuel runner-up qualified eighth for the 22nd running of team owner Don Schumacher’s hometown event. Decked out in her brand-new blue Okuma livery, Leah Pritchett faced another Chicago-area local, T.J. Zizzo, in round one. She was first out of the gate against her opponent but by the time she neared halftrack, the pipes went wet on her 11,000-horsepower machine and the engine let go with a massive explosion causing a rear tire to blow. Pritchett masterfully guided her car to a safe stop while her competitor drove to the round win.
“First and foremost, unfortunately, we did not get the win light, which is disappointing. But man, we were on one heck of a pass going for a low 3.70 before we had a part malfunction which led to a chain of events eventually resulting in all hell breaking loose and a cut tire among other things. We can repair parts. Every safety mechanism we had in place on the car did its job. I was able to get the car straight and stopped. Our crew chiefs and engineers are all working toward making sure a situation like that doesn’t happen again. We had the best-case scenario in a worst-case storm in regards to safety. Sometimes people lose sight of these cars and the fast show we put on that it could end a different way. I’m thankful for the team that I have and the guys back at the shop for developing a great chassis and parts. We’re keeping our sights on win lights, but for now, we’re focused on fixing this problem.”