This past weekend, the NHRA Camping World Championship Drag Racing series headed to Bandimere Speedway for the Dodge Power Brokers Mile-High Nationals, so it was fitting that Leah Pruett recorded her first win with Tony Stewart Racing in her Dodge Power Brokers-sponsored Top Fuel Dragster. Pruett put together a series of smoking fast runs to rocket to the final round, where she ended up making a very quick single pass for the win.
Pruett struggled on her first qualifying run of the event, sitting last after Q1, but that was really her only bad run of the event. In the second round of qualifying, her 3.788 at 326.79 moved her into the top spot. In Q3, her 3.784 at 327.9 kept her in the top spot and her 3.771 at 322.5 in Q4 put her in the third spot on the ladder headed into eliminations.
In the first round of eliminations, Pruett ran a 3.910 at 308.5 to beat former teammate Antron Brown. In E2, she had her slowest run day at 4.059 at 251, but that was still good enough to outrun Clay Millican. Her toughest race came in the third round of eliminations, when she faced #2 qualifier Justin Ashley. Fortunately, Pruett laid down a 0.015 reaction time – the best of the class for the event – giving her an early lead over Ashley, who pulled a 0.059 light. From there, she ran a 3.879 at 317.94 to beat Ashley, who ran a 4.091 at 303.64.
In the finals, Pruett was set to run Shawn Langdon, but Langdon’s dragster ran into mechanical issues during the burnout. As a result, Pruett had a single pass to the win, meaning that all she had to do was stage the car, take the green light and cruise down the track – but instead, she gave the crowd one last show, running a 3.884 at 316.38 miles per hour.
As mentioned above, this was Pruett’s first win with her new Tony Stewart Racing team, second at Bandimere and 10th of her career. More importantly, this win moved her up into the 6th spot in the race for the championship. She is 337 points out of the top spot, but so long as she is in the top ten after the U.S Nationals – when the field resets for the Countdown to the Championship.
Funny Car Struggles
While Leah Pruett had a great weekend in her Dodge Power Brokers Top Fuel Dragster, the Dodge funny car teams struggled. Matt Hagan qualified in the top spot and Cruz Pedregon qualified ninth, but eliminations went poorly for both of them. Hagan smoked the tires in the first round and couldn’t get the car to hook, allowing Jack Wyatt to get the his first round win since 2009. As for Cruz, he took on J.R. Todd and when Todd got out to an early lead, Pedregon couldn’t catch up and the Toyota took the win.
With the early exit, Hagan sits in second place in the championship standings, 95 points behind Robert Hight. Cruz Pedregon is sixth, 457 points out of the lead, but again, all that matters during the “regular season” is staying in the top ten.