Driver of the Palomar Builders Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 2 (3.727 E.T. at 328.28 MPH)
E1: 8.725 E.T. at 82.65 MPH defeated by Bill Litton 4.169 E.T. at 219.76 MPH
After qualifying second for the NHRA Sonoma Nationals, Leah Pritchett and her Jeb Allen-backed Palomar Builders Top Fuel dragster team faced No. 15 qualifier Bill Litton on Sunday morning. Litton was successful in seeking the upset win against last week’s event champion when Pritchett suffered a rare misstep, hitting the throttle early and activating the red light, enabling Litton the immediate round win.
Despite the early exit, Pritchett was able to clinch a Countdown to the Championship playoff berth, the third of her career.
“We had some really good momentum coming into race day, by far. Qualifying No. 2, three pretty great passes. The team worked extra hard Saturday night repairing from Q4. Like anything, you wish you could put your thumb on why something like that happened, but I feel like I was in a little different mental state today, knowing that we clinched our way into the Countdown. Trying to elevate my level of performance to practice for the Countdown, I just anticipated the tree and I thought the route I went was the route I needed to go. Ultimately, though, a testament to the attitude of this team is, the moment that it happened and the amount of support I have from them has made it pass over sooner than I could’ve ever even imagined. As Joe Barlam, one of our our great crew chiefs, says, there are two ways to deal with it and one of them is to get over it. I’m disgusted, by all means, but to live and die by the sword, you have to know where the sword’s at and today I found it. So, hopefully, from now on, we can just keep cutting it up. I could be salty as anything here by the ocean, but the way Jeb (Allen, weekend sponsor), our partners, the team and I have handled today’s early exit shows a lot of fortitude and we can only build on it.”