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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F1 2017 driver review: Romain Grosjean

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Romain Grosjean

Team: Haas
Car No.: 8
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Best Finish: P6 (Austria)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 28
Championship Position: 13th

After leading Haas’ charge through its debut Formula 1 season in 2016, Romain Grosjean once again stepped up as team leader for the American team through its sophomore campaign despite scoring one point fewer.

Haas did not expect any major step in performance heading into 2017, having dealt with building all-new cars for two different sets of regulations, but the team was able to match its season one points total by the halfway mark this time around.

The big boost was the addition of a second points scoring driver – Kevin Magnussen – to partner Grosjean. Grosjean looked increasingly comfortable at Haas even if the car often presented problems, particularly under braking.

Radio rants were frequent, with Grosjean unable to drive around the issues as Magnussen did. But he was nevertheless able to finish the year as Haas’ top scorer, with his highlight moment being a perfect run to sixth in Austria.

Greater consistency was evident from both Grosjean and Haas through 2017, yet there were still swings in form that need to be ironed out in the future. The team was unable to capitalize on Renault and Toro Rosso’s late season difficulties that could have seen it jump to sixth in the constructors’ championship.

Grosjean once again proved himself to be a very competent and talented racer through 2017, but needs a little more panache – perhaps down to the car more than anything – if he is to put himself in the frame for a top-line drive in the future.

Haas continues to offer a good platform, though, and its third season should be its best yet thanks to the stability in the regulations. It will be a real chance for Grosjean to show what he can do.

Season High: A perfect run to sixth in Austria, leading the midfield cars.

Season Low: Crashing early with Ocon in Brazil, hurting Haas’ constructors’ hopes.