Photo/video courtesy of Papa John's

NHRA: Leah Pritchett becomes first female athlete featured in Papa John’s promotion

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Leah Pritchett drives the quickest pizza delivery vehicle in the world, holding the NHRA Top Fuel record for speediest run (3.658 seconds) down a 1,000-foot dragstrip.

Starting today, Pritchett will also become the first female athlete ever featured in a series of TV commercials and promotions for Papa John’s Pizza. The company was a part-time sponsor for Pritchett last season and elevated to primary sponsor for 2017.

Pritchett and her 11,000 horsepower dragster have certainly delivered for Papa John’s, being on top or near the top of the NHRA Top Fuel standings all season.

She’s won three of the first 12 national events and left Sunday’s Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio, just 11 points behind race winner and Top Fuel points leader Steve Torrence.

Pritchett’s TV spots will feature a limited time offer of “Papa John’s Double XL” pizza, which will be available nationally from today through July 23.

“It is an honor to be able to represent this sport and Papa John’s on a national scale and to be featured as the first NHRA driver on a national pizza box,” Pritchett said in a media release.

Pritchett and Papa John’s founder, chairman and CEO, John Schnatter (pictured above with Pritchett), have also teamed up for the Charity Challenge Series, which has already raised $40,000 thus far this season.

The Challenge – which features Pritchett racing her Dodge Challenger vs. Schnatter driving his classic 1971 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 – promotes awareness and resources to combat the mental and physical issues that returning military heroes and their families may face. The next Challenge will be July 7-9 at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Illinois.

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Newgarden fastest as Castroneves returns in weather-shortened Barber test

Photo: IndyCar
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The Verizon IndyCar Series took to Barber Motorsports Park on Tuesday for an open test, with 24 entries tackling the 2.38-mile road course.

Weather intervened in the afternoon, preventing nearly the entire field from going out, but the weather held off during the morning enough for one session to be run in its entirety.

Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden led the way, with a quick lap of 1:07.979, ahead of Team Penske teammates Will Power and Helio Castroneves. For Castroneves, this marked his first IndyCar outing of 2018.

Helio Castroneves was back in an IndyCar on Tuesday at Barber Motorsports Park. Photo: IndyCar

Sporting the Pennzoil “yellow submarine” paint scheme, Castroneves turned 41 laps around Barber in the morning session, with a quick lap of 1:08.315. He was also the only driver to venture out on track in the afternoon, completing eight laps.

The Dale Coyne Racing duo of Sebastien Bourdais and Zachary Claman De Melo completed the top five.

Results are below.