Leah Pritchett proved that her Mopar Dodge 1320 Top Fuel dragster with the “Angry Bee” logo packs plenty of sting, improving on her class-best Friday run and setting the track speed record at Bandimere Speedway near Denver to keep the No. 1 spot locked down at the Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals Powered by Mopar.
Pritchett dominated during qualifying, securing her second consecutive No. 1 at the venue, second consecutive of the season and tenth of her career. The Mopar Dodge 1320 Top Fuel driver clocked the best pass of each round in three out of four qualifying sessions, yielding 11 out of a possible 12 bonus points and lane choice over first-round opponent Terry Totten.
Pritchett closed out Friday evening sitting in the top spot with her 3.806-second elapsed time (ET) at 317.19 mph. Right out of the gate on Saturday, the Todd Okuhara/Joe Barlam-led team threw down a stout 3.813/319.90 run. Pritchett, who entered the event with the track E.T. record after securing the No. 1 spot in 2017, added track speed record to her impressive list of accomplishments when she blasted to a 3.799-second at 327.19-mph in Q4, which held up to be low E.T. of the weekend.
Matt Hagan will steer the brand-new Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car body to its first race day start from the No. 12 spot on Sunday. The two-time Funny Car champion worked to break in the new body over his first three qualifying attempts and appeared to make progress in his final run, taking the Hellcat to its first full pull with a 4.093 ET at 310.55.
Hagan will meet John Force in round one tomorrow in search of his third-consecutive win of the season and first overall at “Thunder Mountain.”
Jack Beckman, a three-time event champion in Denver, saved his usual mountain magic for his final pass. The Mopar driver jumped his Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car from seventh all the way up to the second position with a 3.973 mark. Beckman will line up against Todd Simpson.
Mopar-powered DSR Dodge Funny Car drivers Tommy Johnson Jr. and Ron Capps joined teammate Beckman in the top half of the field. Johnson, runner-up last year at the big event for the Dodge and Mopar brands, also made his move in the final qualifying round, using a 4.003 ET to move his Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T to No. 6. Johnson will open Sunday against Bob Tasca. Capps qualified No. 7 at 4.007 and will draw J.R. Todd.
Tony Schumacher, also a three-time winner at Bandimere Speedway, collected one bonus point and jumped to fifth with a 3.870 ET at 324.59 mph in Q3. Schumacher improved in Q4 with a 3.834 in his Mopar-powered U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster, but was knocked down to No. 7 in the lighting quick final qualifying session. “The Sarge” will face Doug Kalitta in round one tomorrow.
Teammates Hagan and Pritchett wrapped up their two-round grudge match races in Dodge Challenger SRT Demon vehicles at Bandimere, with Hagan evening the scales at 1-1. Pritchett left early earning a red light foul, and Hagan motored down track to take the win. The series kicked off at Denver in 2017, with Pritchett claiming both wins over Hagan.
Three hours of eliminations coverage from the Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals Powered by Mopar will air live on the national Fox Network starting at 3 p.m. ET on Sunday, July 22.