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NHRA: Leah Pritchett runs fastest Top Fuel speed ever in Arizona test

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It may have been one day late than what was on the actual calendar, but Saturday sure seemed liked Groundhog Day for NHRA Top Fuel driver Leah Pritchett.

Pritchett was the fastest driver in the NHRA’s annual “Spring Training” preseason test at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park.

Just like last year’s test.

But this time it was with a symbolic twist: she ran the fastest speed ever in a Top Fuel dragster at a blistering 334.73 mph (at 3.78 seconds).

Unfortunately, because it was not a points paying national event, Pritchett’s speed will not be considered a national record.

“It was awesome,” Pritchett said of the speed. “I was smiling ear to ear. It was smooth and felt so incredibly great. We took the pieces of 10 runs and put them together and made it stick.

 

 

The current Top Fuel speed national record is 333.66 mph, held by 2017 Top Fuel champ Brittany Force).

Shawn Langdon recorded the fastest speed for a dragster at 334.15 mph in 2012 at Reading, Pennsylvania, but he did not back it up to set the national record on the same weekend.

The NHRA has since abolished “backing up” – a previous or subsequent speed within one percent of the potential record-breaker on the same weekend.

And now, just like Groundhog Day, Pritchett goes into this weekend’s season-opening Winternationals in Pomona, California, looking to repeat what she did at the start of last season.

That is: after being the fastest in last year’s preseason test, Pritchett went on a roll, winning the season opener at Pomona and the following race two weeks later at Phoenix – and wound up winning three races overall in the first five of the 2017 season.

She’s hoping to have her own version of Groundhog Day this weekend and then again two weeks later in Phoenix.

“It’s warm and will probably be even warmer in Pomona, so we think we’ll see a testament to all of this testing in Pomona,” Pritchett said. “We’ve got a good foothold on the tune-up. Man, we really needed that.”

IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
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The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.