Driver of the Pennzoil Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 4 (3.731 E.T. at 322.65 MPH)
E1: 3.735 E.T. at 327.43 MPH defeated Troy Buff 3.808 E.T. at 319.67 MPH
E2: 3.740 E.T. at 322.42 MPH defeated Blake Alexander 3.968 E.T. at 276.29 MPH
E3: 3.730 E.T. at 328.46 MPH defeated Tony Schumacher 6.004 E.T. at 93.72 MPH
E4: 5.317 E.T. at 148.85 MPH defeated by Steve Torrence 3.751 E.T. at 326.32 MPH
Behind the wheel of her chromed-out Pennzoil Mopar Dodge Top Fuel machine, aka ‘Silvia’ as nicknamed by No. 4 qualifier Leah Pritchett, the seven-time race winner began eliminations with a win against part-time racer Troy Buff.
Next up was Blake Alexander. Pritchett was able to stop the perennial race win spoiler in the quarterfinals with a 3.740-second pass versus Alexander’s 3.968 E.T. She drew teammate Tony Schumacher in the semifinals and had no trouble getting past him as she powered to her best run of the weekend (3.730) versus Schumacher’s instant tire smoker.
Team Pennzoil faced newly crowned series champion Steve Torrence in the finals. Pritchett was eager to stop Torrence’s current reign of terror which included an undefeated streak of 19 round wins. Unfortunately, Pritchett was slightly overzealous on the line and double-stepped the throttle, immediately giving way to tire smoke. Torrence powered to a clean win and extended his round and race win streak.
“We have a really incredible racecar – the tune-up for Vegas, a solid effort and chance at a runner-up finish in the championship. To put a silver lining on it, we made it to the final with seven solid passes. The buck stopped at me and I take full responsibility for that, wanting so badly not just to put a stop to Torrence’s reign in this Countdown, but more than anything to get the win for this team. And to get myself in that mental state and hang it out all on the line, and I did, and my foot thought otherwise. It wasn’t the best driving job to be able to get to the finish line first. Seven just incredible runs, finally the issues we’ve been having with our superchargers and chassis, I think we’ve conquered those. So, if anything, a solid run for a good spot in the championship and a really good head start into 2019. The guys have really stepped up and this entire team has been really impressive to me.”