Top-five Top Fuel racer Leah Pritchett displayed her driving skill Sunday in controlling her Okuma Dragster after a massive explosion blew away her right rear tire during eliminations at the NHRA Route 66 Nationals at Joliet, Illinois.
Pritchettâs engine detonated early into her first-round pass against T.J. Zizzo, and she quickly brought it to a halt.
âWeâll race another day,â she said moments after exiting her car uninjured. âIâm most disappointed this moment we werenât able to turn on the win light for Okuma right now. Weâre trying to get our ducks in a row [financially] so we can potentially race at Topeka. Thatâs whatâs next, hopefully.â
Zizzo, who had just told her in the staging lanes, âGood luck and be safe,â said, âWhen you see something like that happen, you know just how dangerous this sport is.â
He said when he puts his children on the school bus and goes to the dragstrip some days, he knows he âmay not see them again, because this is a dangerous sport. But the NHRA keeps this as safe as they can. We have great professional drivers out here.
âLeah did a great job getting that thing to a stop. Hats off to her,â he said. âBut I will tell you now, to see something like that happen and the damage that it causes, itâs just nice to see sheâs safe.â
Early assessment at the scene pointed to the failure of the coupler that connects the clutch to the rear end. But the Todd Okuhara-led crew at Don Schumacher Racing will investigate what happened for certain.