By Lee Elder
MORRISON, Colo. (July 21, 2018) – Leah Pritchett set a track record and secured the top spot on the Top Fuel eliminations ladder for Sunday’s Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Dodge NHRA Mile High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway.
Pritchett’s 327.19 mph pass in the fourth round Saturday was the fastest pass by a Top Fuel car in the history of the facility. Her elapsed time, 3.799 seconds, was fast enough to make her the top qualifier in the category for Sunday’s eliminations.
Eddie Krawiec got the top spot in Pro Stock Motorcycle, Deric Kramer grabbed the top spot in Pro Stock and Courtney Force secured the number one in Funny Car.
“We got a new front half on our dragster after Epping – typical after a certain number of runs – and I’m sure glad we did because at halftrack I’m not sure the front wheels were on the ground. That thing was just dancing and dancing and dancing,” Pritchett said.
Brittany Force qualified second behind Pritchett and Steve Torrence was third.
Courtney Force qualified first in Funny Car, making a 3.949-second, 309.91 mph pass stand up. Jack Beckman was second, Robert Hight was third. On the final pass of the evening, Force lined up against her father, John Force, secure in knowing that one of them would be on the top step of the eliminations ladder on Sunday.
“We had nothing to lose and we were watching the cars in front of us and knew that it was either going to be Dad that took us out of the top spot or we’d improve,” Courtney Force said. “It was a solid pass.”
There was plenty of Funny Car drama, even away from the Force team. Cruz Pedregon used a backup body for his Funny Car Saturday, mounted on the same chassis he used Friday. Pedregon’s car experienced a major malfunction during Q1 Friday when an engine explosion destroyed the original car body. Pedregon was not injured Friday and he made two passes Saturday. Pedregon’s best pass Saturday was 3.992 seconds, good enough to put him fourth on the ladder.
“That’s a good run there. I was nervous when I made that first run today,” Pedregon said after his fourth-round pass.
Kramer nabbed the top spot in Pro Stock with a Q4 run of 6.929 seconds and 197.57 mph. A Colorado native, Kramer took the top spot from Greg Anderson, who will start eliminations from the second spot. Tanner Gray will start third.
“It seems like the best way for me to get number one is in Q4, so I’ll take that,” Kramer said after exiting the car. He added, “It’s a great feeling to run as well as we did today. I have a ton of laps here, so I feel like that probably helps a little bit.”
Krawiec and Hector Arana Jr. both set track records in Pro Stock Motorcycle. Krawiec established a track elapsed time mark at 7.111 seconds. One pair earlier, Arana set the track speed record at 188.86 mph. The quick time gave Krawiec his first top qualifier position of the season and the 40th of his career. Arana will start second on the eliminations ladder and Andrew Hines will start third.
“We for sure let a 7.10 get away from us there,” Krawiec said. “I’m not sure if we could have gone 7.09 there, but it’s been going 1.07 to 60 feet every lap and the track was really good on that last pass.”
NOTES: Todd Simpson’s Funny Car did not make an appearance Saturday and is not expected to race Sunday. Simpson’s car’s body was damaged when its parachutes failed to deploy at the end of its Q1 pass and the car went into the trap at the end of the racing surface. Simpson was not injured in the mishap. The team does not have a replacement body but because the team’s Q1 performance was good enough to qualify, it will officially make the field in the 15th position. Jim Campbell failed to make the Funny Car field. … Kelly Clontz failed to make the Pro Stock Motorcycle field. … Blake Alexander’s Top Fuel car made four sub-four-second qualifying passes. Alexander said, “We haven’t really put it all together yet but we’ll put it together for Sunday.”