It’s one of the most important events of the season for Leah Pruett, and the Top Fuel star couldn’t be entering this weekend’s 43rd annual Dodge Power Brokers NHRA Mile-High Nationals at legendary Bandimere Speedway on a better note.
Pruett is the defending event winner on Thunder Mountain, a memorable moment where she captured the first Top Fuel victory last season for the first-year Tony Stewart Racing team. But the standout is also the winner of the most recent NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series event in Norwalk this year, meaning things are coming together at an ideal time for Pruett and her team.
Going to a track celebrating a historic 65th anniversary and racing at her sponsor’s event makes the weekend mean even that much more for Pruett, who is currently third in the points standings in her 11,000-horsepower Dodge Direct Connection dragster.
“Building off of [Norwalk] and our notes from last year, it’s going to be incredible,” Pruett said. “This is my favorite track to race on, and it’s going to be special. It’s going to be an awesome weekend, and we’ve got a really good package right now. As a driver, that gives me confidence. I’ve got a great car that’s extremely drivable, and I know we’ve got a car that’s capable of winning races. We are no longer running the same setup we won with last year at this race, so there will still be new challenges for us on the mountain. However, we believe we are better prepared for it than before, which gives us the confidence to have a repeat performance.”
Pruett (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car), Matt Hartford (Pro Stock), and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) won the 2022 event, and this year’s race be broadcast on both the FOX broadcast network and FOX Sports 1 (FS1), including eliminations coverage starting at 4 p.m. ET on Sunday, July 16 on FOX. It is the 10th of 21 races during the 2023 season and also the first of three races on the famed Western Swing, and there’s no doubt this one means a great deal to Pruett.
The event on Thunder Mountain has always been considered a special race with competitors racing at an elevation of nearly 6,000 feet in front of a packed house in Denver. Pruett loves that challenge, and it’s often brought out the best in her in Denver, where she’s claimed two career Top Fuel wins.
This season, she’ll have a chance to win twice in one weekend, as Pruett will also compete in the new Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge on Saturday, which offers a bonus purse and bonus points while bringing competitive racing to qualifying. She’ll take on Austin Prock in a semifinal rematch from Norwalk, while the other matchup in the bonus race features points leader Justin Ashley and defending world champ Brittany Force.
That has Pruett excited for the weekend, as does the chance to win on Sunday in Denver, also competing against the likes of Antron Brown, Josh Hart, Tony Schumacher, Doug Kalitta, Shawn Langdon, and Mike Salinas.
“Bandimere Speedway encapsulates for me the meaning of the highest caliber of drag racing,” said Pruett, who has 11 career Top Fuel victories. “I felt that as a child with my only goal in life being to win on the mountain. As I grew older and got the opportunity to come back at the highest level, I believe that energy infused itself into each of the teams I’ve been blessed to work and win with on the mountain. Preparation has always been the standout component to success on the mountain, and I’ve never felt more prepared than this year.”
NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 3:30 and 7 p.m. MT on Friday, July 14 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, July 15 at 2:30 and 6 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. MT on Sunday, July 16. Television coverage includes qualifying action on FS1 at 7 p.m. ET on Friday, 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, and then eliminations on FOX at 4 p.m. ET on Sunday.
To purchase tickets to the 43rd and final Dodge Power Brokers NHRA Mile-High Nationals on July 14-16 at Bandimere Speedway, fans can visit www.bandimere.com.