It's one down, one to go for Leah Pritchett. Pritchett knocked the first item off her NHRA to-do list on on Sunday when she clinched the 2018 SAM Tech NHRA Factory Stock Showdown Series championship in her Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak at the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals in Ennis, Texas. It marked her third consecutive win of the season in the class and the championship was her first and came in in her first full year competing in the class. Next up, Pritchett continues her quest for a first NHRA Top Fuel championship. She's fourth in the points, 224 back of red-hot Steve Torrence, with three race weekends left in the season. Torrence has won the first three events of the NHRA Mello Yello Series Countdown to the Championship playoffs. The series is back in action this weekend at zMax Raceway in Charlotte, North Carolina, for the NHRA Carolina Nationals. The NHRA Factory Stock Showdown crown is the fourth career title for Pritchett, who also captured 2000-2001 Jr. Dragster Division 7 championships and the 2010 NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Racing Series championship in the Nostalgia Funny Car class. She is currently the only professional driver in contention to win two world titles during the 2018 NHRA season.
Pritchett entered the action at the Texas Motorplex facility coming off of victories at the NHRA U.S. Nationals in early September and at the NHRA Midwest Nationals two weeks ago, where she became the first NHRA driver in the Factory Stock Showdown class to make a pass in the seven-second range. She qualified No. 10 and posted her quickest pass of the weekend, an 8.079-second E.T. at 169.64 mph, to defeat Aaron Stanfield in the opening round of eliminations on Sunday. After advancing past Randy Taylor in the quarterfinals, Pritchett moved on to a dramatic semifinal grouping that also featured co-points leaders Stephen Bell and Arthur Kohn, with Pritchett trailing each by a single point. She squared off against Bell with her season on the line, leaving first with a clutch 0.038-second reaction time and recording a winning 8.107-second 169.00-mph mark. Kohn was up next, needing to win his semifinal match against Kevin Skinner to extend the championship battle to the final round. Skinner took the win, crowning Pritchett as the 2018 NHRA Factory Stock Showdown champion. She would add the cherry on top by taking out No. 1 qualifier Skinner in the final with an arrow-straight 8.106-second pass down the track to earn her third consecutive event win.
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