READING, Pa. – It took some fancy pedal work and a few agonizing moments, but R2B2 Racing’s Leah Pruett qualified for her first NHRA Full Throttle Series Funny Car race on Saturday at Maple Grove Raceway.
“We had a lot of random mechanical problems hit us this weekend,” Pruett said. “But we got the car in, and I’m so thankful and excited for that. The crew did a great job all weekend, and I’m excited to race in my first national event in a Funny Car.”
Pruett and the ProCare Rx Toyota will start Sunday’s eliminations for the Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway from the No. 16 spot after a best pass of 4.644 seconds at 212.43 mph.
“Priority No. 1 was to get to the finish line as quick as possible,” Pruett said. “Other runs, if they shake or rattle you know you have another round in your pocket. In the fourth round you know you have to make it to the end.”
After not getting a clean run in the third qualifying round Saturday, Pruett faced a do-or-die run in the final qualifier.
“It’s all or nothing, and I told myself to be ready to pedal the car,” Pruett said. “It’s the first time I’ve had to do that in a nitro Funny Car. The car started to shake, and I thought it would drive through it, but the tires were on the edge of spinning. I lifted for a second and got back in it. Right at the end I had to pedal it again because I knew it wasn’t close enough to the finish line yet.”
Making a successful 1,000-foot run was only the first hurdle. Pruett then had to wait to see if Mike Smith, Paul Lee or Terry Haddock would be able to beat her posted time.
“They told me I was 16th, and I was pretty surprised,” Pruett said. “Lucky for me the other three guys had issues and didn’t make a full run. I was standing next to Gary Gerould of ESPN and I asked him after the last guy ran, ‘Is it official, I’m in?’
“It seemed like it took forever to get those guys to make their runs while I was waiting at the top end, watching on a monitor.”
Pruett will square off against No. 1 qualifier Johnny Gray, who made a best run of 4.010 seconds at 318.62 mph.
“Johnny has put down some hard-core numbers,” Pruett said. “We can’t be too intimidated by it because the ProCare Rx car has shown it’s capable of putting up those big numbers too.
“Tomorrow is a brand-new day, and elimination day is what I live for.”
Eliminations for the Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals get underway at 11 a.m. EDT Sunday from Maple Grove Raceway.
Please visit www.R2B2Racing.com for more information.