Photo: Don Schumacher Racing

Leah Pritchett delivers fastest unofficial ET in NHRA history, 3.654 seconds

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On Friday, Courtney Force set the unofficial fastest pass in NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Funny Car history during the Nitro Spring Training test at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park.

And on Saturday, Top Fuel driver Leah Pritchett did one better – just dropping the unofficial fastest pass in NHRA series history.

Pritchett metaphorically lit the drag strip on fire in her Papa John’s dragster for Don Schumacher Racing, with a new fastest pass at 3.654 seconds over the 1,000-foot distance, at a speed of 331.85 mph. Even more impressive was the fact it came in the heat of the afternoon, with track temperatures north of 104 degrees Fahrenheit.

The official Top Fuel ET record in competition is a 3.671-second pass, which Steve Torrence set July 31, 2016 at Sonoma.

Pritchett instead opted to thank her crew for tuning her dragster to this scorching time.

“I have to be totally honest, we didn’t come out here to be the quickest,” Pritchett said, via the official NHRA website.

“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.”

Pritchett endured a roller coaster 2016 season with a change of team but an eventual Countdown appearance.

More from Saturday’s runs are linked here, via the NHRA website.

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.