Leah Pritchett repeated as the Top Fuel winner at the 33rd annual NHRA Arizona Nationals on Sunday at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park.
Matt Hagan (Funny Car) and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) were also winners in their respective categories at the second of 24 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series events.
For the second consecutive year Pritchett defeated Brittany Force in the finals. Pritchett’s 3.705-second pass at 328.22 mph in her Papa John’s Pizza dragster earned her the third victory of her career, second of the season and second at the NHRA Arizona Nationals. Force raced to a 3.704 at 330.39 in her Monster Energy dragster losing to Pritchett on a holeshot.
“I’m learning to do what it takes to get into that extreme, severe mindset of what it takes to do what we’re doing,” said Pritchett who won the season opening event at Pomona, Calif. “Honestly I’m trying to keep up with my team for how well they’re doing and make them proud of me as a driver and do the job that is expected of a Don Schumacher racing team and I think we’re doing pretty okay with that. We’re blessed with the equipment and the talent capabilities of the people and everyone that it takes to make it. I’m happy I can hold up my end of the bargain.”
It is the first time a Top Fuel pilot has won the first two races of the season since Gary Scelzi in 1997. Pritchett was the No. 1 qualifier at the event and set the elapsed-time national record with a 3.658 pass in qualifying.
Pritchett outran Clay Millican and Shawn Reed en route to the win while Force faced-off against Terry McMillen, three-time and reigning world champion Antron Brown and eight-time world champion Tony Schumacher before falling to Pritchett in the finals.
Hagan won his second consecutive Funny Car race to remain undefeated in the 2017 season. Hagan’s 3.878 at 330.88 in his Sandvik Coromat Dodge Charger R/T bettered reigning world champion Ron Capps’ 3.883 at 330.88 in the NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T.
“It’s just great. We got ourselves a hotrod right now,” Hagan said. “The car is running strong. My lights are on point right now. I’m just feeling it, feeling this race car, this race team. We’re just digging. Everybody is working hard. The car is going down the race track every lap. How much more could you ask for. It’s a great feeling to crawl in the car knowing that you have the confidence that it’s going to run strong and then when your lights are good it’s a real hard combination to beat.”
Hagan has two wins at the NHRA Arizona Nationals, the first coming in 2015. He raced Cruz Pedregon, 2016 race winner Tim Wilkerson and No. 1 qualifier of the event Tommy Johnson Jr. on his way to the winner’s circle. Capps defeated Jeff Arend, Gary Densham and Jim Campbell.
In Pro Stock, Anderson raced his Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro to a 6.547 at 211.43 to defeat Drew Skillman and his Ray Skillman Auto Group Chevy Camaro’s 6.565 210.50 for the 87th victory of his career and second at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park. It was Anderson’s 140th final round.
“It was brutal today, but I knew it was going to be coming in,” Anderson said. “The class is awesome right now. I think every race I had today was decide by less than a foot. You just don’t get better racing than that. It’s fantastic out there. It’s just a battle royale every time you stage the car. Anybody can win and that’s what it’s all about. ”
Anderson defeated Kenny Delco, Shane Gray and rookie Tanner Gray in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectfully. Skillman got past Anderson’s KB Racing teammate and reigning world champion Jason Line as well as veteran Jeg Coughlin.
The 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing season continues with the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla. March 16-19.