In addition to her fulltime role as a Top Fuel driver for Don Schumacher Racing, NHRA Mello Yello star Leah Pritchett will also race in all seven School of Automotive Machinists & Technology NHRA Factory Stock Showdown events in 2018.
Pritchett’s 354-cubic-inch Hemi engine-powered Dodge Challenger Drag Pak will be prepped and maintained by the DSR team, led by crew chief and new DSR employee Kevin Helms. Helms brings years of experience driving and tuning a Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak to his new role, including a 2015 NHRA Stock eliminator world championship and 2017 NHRA Stock and Super Stock runner-up finishes.
Pritchett first tasted Factory Stock Showdown competition last year, racing at two events in the popular NHRA Sportsman category. That exposure stoked her competitive fires to embark on a full 2018 schedule.
“You should see the smile on my face, whether I’m talking about it or my team is talking about it,” said Pritchett. “It’s a dream come true. The double-duty aspect, I had a taste of it last year and honestly, I think it makes me a better racer overall. When we roll out in 2018, the Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak will be put on the track by Don Schumacher Racing, which makes me feel fulfilled in every way. We have proven to have a very competitive racecar, and the goal is to be the quickest and fastest in both silos (Factory Stock and Top Fuel).
"To have a three-time world champion Sportsman racer like Kevin Helms [as crew chief] is definitely an ace in my pocket, and I’m just being a student of his. We have had a pretty good off-season of development. The test sessions we’ve had, I never experienced a crew chief that was a driver and tuner before, so the dynamic is very exciting and compelling to me. Kevin is definitely a very large asset to the program, which gives me a ton of confidence.”
Pietro Gorlier, Head of Parts and Service (Mopar), FCA, added, “We’re excited that, in addition to competing under the banner of the Mopar and Dodge brands in the NHRA Top Fuel class, Leah Pritchett will also carry our colors into NHRA Factory Stock Showdown competition. Leah is a fierce competitor and a great brand ambassador, and we look forward to cheering her on in double-duty at seven events this year.”
Fans also have the power to choose the look of Pritchett’s NHRA Factory Stock Showdown racecar. A pair of Mopar and Dodge//SRT-themed livery concepts, designed by motorsports lifestyle brand Hoonigan, will be featured on a special section of Hoonigan’s website, https://www.hoonigan.com/LP, for a fan vote that will end at 11:59 p.m. ET on Feb. 8. Pritchett will carry the winning design at all seven NHRA Factory Stock Showdown races, starting at the first event, the NHRA Gatornationals, scheduled for March 15-18 in Gainesville, Fla.