Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak driver Leah Pritchett continued to own the Factory Stock Showdown class, celebrating her second consecutive event win one day after becoming first in the class to run in the seven-second range during the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park near St. Louis.
The Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) driver made history during Factory Stock Showdown qualifying on Saturday at St. Louis, shrugging off a recent decision by the NHRA to effectively slap a 50-lb. weight handicap on all Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak vehicles to post a 7.936-second elapsed time (ET) and become the first NHRA driver in the class to make a hit in the seven-second range.
Despite owning a new entry in the NHRA record books, Pritchett would wrap up qualifying No. 2 after her DSR teammate Mark Pawuk ran even lower with a 7.929 ET to earn the pole. It marked the third consecutive event at which the Mopar brand’s modern-day package car, the supercharged, 354-cubic-inch HEMI®-engine-powered Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak, earned the top two spots on the qualifying charts.
Pritchett, winner and No. 1 qualifier at the most recent NHRA Factory Stock Showdown event at the NHRA U.S. Nationals earlier this month, kept the seven-second train rolling with a 7.948 pass at 172.70 mph to defeat fellow Mopar Dodge Drag Pak driver and former NHRA Pro Stock racer Allen Johnson in the opening round. She used an 8.031/172.12 to send home Pete Gasko Jr. in the quarterfinals and then knocked out Arthur Kohn in the semifinals with an 8.011/171.88 run.
In the final, Pritchett nudged up near the seven-second range in an easy defeat of Stephen Bell, who knocked out her teammate Pawuk in round two, unleashing her Kevin Helms-tuned Drag Pak with a blistering 8.001/172.36 to claim victory after Bell experienced problems early. The win was the fourth consecutive in Factory Stock Showdown by a Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak driver, dating back to the NHRA Bristol event in June.