Pritchett to team with DSR in Denver

Top Fuel driver Leah Pritchett’s season-long bid to earn a spot in the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship got another boost Thursday when it was announced that she has struck a deal to compete at the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals with a Don Schumacher Racing dragster.

Pritchett will drive DSR’s fourth dragster for the fifth time this year in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series with crew chiefs Mike Guger and Joe Barlam. Pritchett began the year with Bob Vandergriff Racing in what was to be her first full-time Top Fuel season. But after four events, including a win in the year's second race, team owner Bob Vandergriff abruptly retired upon the death of a primary sponsor and close friend. She put together financial backing for another race before joining the independent Lagana Brothers team for three more. She first joined DSR in mid-May near Atlanta.

Her last race with DSR was a semifinal finish at the K&N Filters Route 66 NHRA Nationals that strengthened her hold on the No. 10 ranking despite missing one of 13 Mello Yello races this year. At the race she missed, in Topeka, she fell out of the top 10 for the first and only time this season, but she raced her way back into a Countdown berth at the next event. She currently holds a slim 30-point edge over 11th-place Terry McMillen.

Pritchett, 28, is in her 20th season of NHRA racing. The first 10 were in the Jr. Dragster program and led to winning five NHRA Wally trophies. She was 9 when she won her first at the facility near Denver in team competition with Shawn Langdon, current DSR driver and 2013 Top Fuel world champion.

Pritchett also will join her fellow DSR teammates in Golden, Colo., for the 15th annual Mopar Block Party that kicks off the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals.

Pritchett, a Southern California native and graduate of Cal State San Bernardino, already has committed to race with DSR for FireAde 2000 Personnel Fire Suppression Systems at the prestigious Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals over Labor Day weekend near Indianapolis.

Pritchett and DSR also report that they are optimistic they will team for additional races this year.

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