COURTNEY FORCE AND LEAH PRITCHETT DOMINATE NITRO SPRING TRAINING
CHANDLER, Ariz. --- Nitro Spring Training came to an end Saturday at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, Ariz. where NHRA Funny Car and Top Fuel teams put all their off-season hard work to the test one week before the start of the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season.
Leah Pritchett had the unofficial quickest run in NHRA history in her Papa John’s Pizza Top Fuel dragster Saturday morning. Pritchett and her crew put down a 3.654-second pass at 331.85 mph during their first try of the day after they ran the two quickest passes Friday with a 3.677 and a 3.685.
“I have to be totally honest, we didn’t come out here to be the quickest,” said Pritchett, who won her first Top Fuel event at Wild Horse Pass in 2016. “That wasn’t the goal. The goal was to get the power that we created in the offseason to the track. We exceeded our expectations yesterday and today we did the same. For it to blast off at .65 on a warmer day today, man I’m stoked for (my team), that’s a lot of hard work and they just put it on the track.”
With a track temp of 104 degrees on Saturday afternoon, Pritchett ran a 3.697 at 327.51 to give her ownership to four of the top five times of the weekend.
Steve Torrence, who holds the Top Fuel ET national record at 3.671, had the second quickest machine when he ran a 3.691 on Friday. Brittany Force, pilot of the Monster Energy dragster for John Force Racing, had the third quickest with a 3.695 narrowly out running Doug Kalitta, who finished second in the points standings in 2016, and his Mac Tools dragster with a 3.697 on Saturday. Defending world champion Antron Brown was fifth with his 3.701 run from Thursday in his Matco Tools dragster.
Rookie Troy Coughlin Jr., who will be racing a full season for Kalitta Motorsports, closed out testing with his best run of the weekend posting a 3.763 at 317.42 in his SealMaster Top Fuel dragster.
Courtney Force and her Advance Auto Parts Chevy Camaro SS ran the weekend’s quickest time for the Funny Car class. Her 3.804 at 333.33 from Friday is unofficially the quickest run in Funny Car history. She was also quickest Friday with a 3.841 and then a 3.847.
“It was a pretty unbelievable run,” Force said. “It’s all thanks to (my crew); I’m just the one piloting the car down to the other end. But it was really exciting hearing them come on the radio and be so excited about it. I feel like I had my hands full on multiple runs, but it’s really great being able to make so many great passes just in testing – the 3.84s and then the 3.80 unofficially. It’s a great feeling. I’m proud of my guys; it’s all because of them.”
Defending Funny Car world champion Ron Capps’ NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T was the second quickest Funny Car with a 3.854 pass on Friday. Force’s father and 16-time world champion John Force had a 3.856 in his PEAK Chevy Camaro SS to take the third spot from teammate Robert Hight who ran a 3.859 Friday in his Auto Club Chevy Camaro SS.
J.R. Todd, who is making the transition from Top Fuel to Funny Car racing the DHL Toyota Camry for Kalitta, made a 3.909 pass at 312.93 for his best run at testing on Friday and Del Worsham, now racing for his family team, Worsham Racing, tested Friday and made a 4.060 pass at 283.01.
The 2017 Mello Yello Drag Racing season gets underway February 9-12 with the Circle K NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Pomona, Calif. Qualifying will be televised on FS1 at 7 p.m. ET on Friday and live on FS1 Saturday at 1 p.m. ET. The Finals will be live on FOX Sports at 4 p.m. ET.
Press release courtesy
the NHRA Communications Dept.
Photo by Dicken Wear
Photo by Dicken Wear
Robert Hight: Photo by Dicken Wear