Leah Pruett lined up against fellow Don Schumacher Racing teammate Tony Schumacher on Sunday for the second round of eliminations at the Mopar Express Lane Midwest Nationals. Her Mopar Dodge dragster squirmed at the start, but the two racers were within .004 seconds of each other at the 330-foot mark. Shortly after, things got ugly.
Pruett’s car began to lift and the front half of the chassis completely detached. Pruett was pretty much along for the ride after that, and it seems the only thing she could do to keep the car pointing down track was to pull the chutes. Luckily, although the dragster began to roll over and yaw to the left, the drag of the parachutes did help to straighten out the shredded dragster. Once the car came to a halt, scraping and throwing sparks along the track, Pruett quickly climbed out and signaled to the safety crew that she was OK. After the race, Pruett was interviewed by Fox Sports and said, “I’m so thankful for the Don Schumacher chassis, for my entire crew, for all the safety, everything that’s ever been implemented in Top Fuel, for me to be able to walk away.”
Pruett’s crash looks surprisingly similar to a pair of crashes suffered by Larry Dixon in 2000 and 2015:
Pruett is in third place in the NHRA’s Mello Yello Drag Racing Series standings after this weekend. She’s just 80 points behind leader Steve Torrance, who’s got a close lead over Doug Kalitta. Those two finished 1–2 last year as well. Pruett needs to finish strong in the remaining three events of the season to have a chance at the championship and keep Torrance from a three-peat.