(Photos provided by Papa John's and Leah Pritchett Racing)

Top Fuel driver Leah Pritchett is delivering in a big way at U.S. Nationals

Leave a comment

BROWNSBURG, Indiana – At speeds of over 320 mph, Leah Pritchett may very well drive the fastest pizza delivery car there is.

The NHRA Top Fuel driver is being sponsored – the second of a two-race deal – during this weekend’s Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals by Papa John’s Pizza.

It’s been a pretty eventful weekend so far for Pritchett on three fronts:

* She’s currently 10th after the first three rounds of qualifying, with the final two rounds of qualifying set for Sunday.

* She finished runner-up in the prestigious Traxxas Shootout in Top Fuel Saturday, falling to Don Schumacher Racing teammate Tony Schumacher.

* But Pritchett has already reached victory lane, coming off Friday’s “grudge match” race win against Papa John’s founder John Schnatter.

Schnatter drove a mint condition and classic 1971 Chevrolet Camaro Z-28, while Pritchett drove her own classic, a 1969 Chevy Camaro Z-28.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6vvWacDKVU.

Leah wins pizza race

While Pritchett crossed the finish line first, the real winner was Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis, which received $20,000 from the grudge match: Schnatter put up $10,000, while Pritchett’s boss, Don Schumacher, put up the other $10,000.

“I wanted her to win, but I wanted a close race,” Schnatter said. “She’s just too good. I said, ‘Leah, the kids are going to win. That’s all that matters.’”

Added Pritchett, “To run against (Papa John) was exhilarating. I think it’s really awesome to have John be so integrated and for me somewhat of a mentor.

“He made Papa John’s out of absolutely nothing, from a dream. And this is a dream he is helping me get to live.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Steve Torrence takes NHRA points lead with Gatornationals victory

NHRA Gainesville Steve Torrence
Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Leave a comment

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Two-time defending NHRA Top Fuel champion Steve Torrence took the points lead Sunday in the AMALIE Motor Oil Gatornationals, beating his father, Billy, in the final round at Gainesville Raceway.

Torrence had a 3.809-second run at 322.11 mph to win for the third time this year and 39th overall. He is now on track for another championship despite missing the season opener.

“We’ve got some good momentum and to be in the points lead, it’s a testament to how hard these guys work,” Steve Torrence said after the NHRA Gainesville victory. “We’ve just got to stay focused and concentrate on what the task at hand is, and that’s trying to win a championship. These guys give me an unbelievable race car and you just try not to screw it up.”

Ron Capps won in Funny Car, Alex Laughlin in Pro Stock and Matt Smith in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Capps raced to his second win this year and 66th overall, beating Tim Wilkerson with a 3.937 at 323.12 in a Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat.

Laughlin topped Aaron Stanfield with a 7.068 at 204.76 in a Chevrolet Camaro for his first win this season and fourth in his career. Smith rode to his first victory in 2020 and 25th overall, topping Andrew Hines with a 6.843 at 196.99 on an EBR.