Leah Pritchett loses ride as NHRA team closes shop

By Las Vegas Review Journal

It was just two weeks ago that Leah Pritchett was front and center during the media luncheon for the DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.  A few before, she had won her first race as a full-time Top Fuel driver at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park. That was huge for the 27-year-old speedster; you could still see the glow in her smile.  She was sitting next to Brittany Force, one of John Force’s drag racing daughters, on the dais. The week after Pritchett won, Brittany Force won her first race. It appeared a new rivalry was budding.

Leah Pritchett greeted you by name — she remembered those she had encountered on her way up — and then on Sunday, after struggling during qualifying runs, she lost by the narrowest of margins to vaunted Antron Brown during the second round. It was a heck of a drag race. Pritchett lost by a tick of the electronic timer, despite going 322.11 mph.And now, almost nearly as fast, or so it seems, she finds herself looking for a ride again.  In a move that caught most in the sport off guard, her team, Bob Vandergriff Racing, closed shop doors this week. As they say, effective immediately. Pritchett and teammate Dave Connolly were released following the death of team supporter Josh Comstock, chairman and CEO of C&J Energy Services, who died in March.

Pritchett wrote on her Facebook page: “It is beyond unfortunate, surprising and a tip of a seahorse to say the least with the retirement news of Bob Vandergriff, and ultimately the doors officially closing of BVR. I have beyond huge gratitude to Bob for believing in me, on and off the track … his steadfast efforts to keep this program afloat.  “Not sure when I’ll be hitting the track again, but if you know me … You know I won’t lift!”  When she does hit the track again, it could be with Don Schumacher Racing. Schumacher has been talking about adding a fourth Top Fuel team, and with Pritchett bringing along Quaker State sponsorship, perhaps it will happen sooner than later.