Photo courtesy Mopar/Dodge

NHRA: Leah Pritchett to do double duty in seven events this season

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It’s going to be a very busy year for NHRA Top Fuel driver Leah Pritchett.

Not only will she be going for the Top Fuel championship, Pritchett announced today that she’ll pilot a supercharged 2018 Dodge Challenger Drag Pak during NHRA Factory Stock Showdown events.

Pritchett’s crew chief on the 354-cubic-inch HEMI-powered Challenger will be Don Schumacher Racing employee Kevin Helms, and the car will be maintained by the DSR team.

Helms is a three-time champion in Stock Eliminator and was runner-up in the 2017 NHRA Stock and Super Stock classes.

Pritchett will take part in the full seven-race, season-long NHRA Factory Stock Showdown series, which runs in conjunction with NHRA national events.

Pritchett prepared for this year’s Factory Stock Showdown by competing in two events last season, which prompted her to run the full season in 2018.

This will also be Pritchett’s second full-time season in Top Fuel. She won the first two races last season and three of the first five and looks to repeat as the 2018 season kicks off this weekend with the NHRA Lucas Oil Winternationals in Pomona, California.

“You should see the smile on my face, whether I’m talking about it or my team is talking about it,” Pritchett said. “It’s a dream come true. The double-duty aspect, I had a taste of it last year and honestly, I think it makes me a better racer overall.

“When we roll out in 2018, the Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak will be put on the track by Don Schumacher Racing, which makes me feel fulfilled in every way. We have proven to have a very competitive racecar, and the goal is to be the quickest and fastest in both silos (Factory Stock and Top Fuel).”

One unique aspect of Monday’s announcement is that fans will pick the graphics (images above) on her race car. Go to www.hoonigan.com/LP to vote. Voting ends at 11:59 p.m. ET this Thursday.

The first event of the Factory Stock Showdown will be at the NHRA Gatornationals, March 15-18, in Gainesville, Florida.

NHRA: Brittany Force cleared to race this weekend in Phoenix after bad wreck 2 weeks ago

Photo: John Force Racing
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Drag racing is a Force family tradition. So, too, is not keeping a Force family member down.

Just 12 days after the most serious wreck of her six-year drag racing career, Brittany Force and John Force Racing announced late Thursday afternoon that the defending 2017 NHRA Top Fuel champion has been medically cleared and will indeed race in this weekend’s NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix, Arizona.

“I flew into Phoenix early this (Thursday) morning and headed straight out to the race track to meet up with my team,” Force said. “I suited up and got belted back into my car that I ran all last season.

“It honestly felt good to be strapped back in and I was surprised how comfortable I was. I’m looking forward to getting back in my car tomorrow (Friday’s first two rounds of qualifying) and getting back in the swing of things with my guys.”

The 31-year-old Force, one of four daughters of 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force, suffered a concussion and bruising after the hard crash she was involved in on February 11 in the first round of eliminations of the season-opening NHRA Lucas Oil Winternationals in Pomona, California.

Shortly after leaving the starting line in a race vs. Terry Haddock, Force’s dragster crossed from the right to left lanes, impacted the retaining wall with a very hard lateral crash, bounced off, spun, went on its side and briefly caught fire after crossing the finish line wheels-up.

While she is still recovering from the bruising, Force feels strong enough to get back behind the wheel. Getting back in the race car could be the best medicine of all, since she has three runner-up finishes in Phoenix, including back-to-back second-place showings in both the 2016 and 2017 national events.

The three-day event kicks off Friday with qualifying rounds at 4 and 6:30 p.m. ET, the same times as Saturday’s qualifying. Final eliminations begin at 1 p.m. ET Sunday.