For a handful of drag racers, the recently completed NHRA Midwest Nationals was a costly affair. Not only were some left to pick up the pieces of crashed race cars; others had their classes postponed to a later date. NHRA has confirmed the two Pro Stock divisions will be completed at the upcoming Dallas event next week.
Significant incidents transpired in three of the four NHRA professional categories.
Leah Pruett’s first-round accident started a chain-reaction of sorts, headlining multiple incidents on race day.
For Pruett, the ride was eerily similar to the one experienced by Larry Dixon in March 2015. Her dragster also appeared to break apart just in front of the foot box, flexing the chassis upward where it snapped in two and sent the driver’s compartment flying.
“This car’s been very reactive and all of a sudden, one thing I know I’m hauling ass, next thing I know I’m sky like I’m flying and I held on and I knew that this wasn’t going to be good,” Pruett explained after the incident.
The accident could have been much worse had the impact of landing not been absorbed by the slicks.
“I have to say, and this sounds so weird, the amount of confidence that I had in the car, and I knew what was about to happen, and I’ve seen every crash that’s probably ever been in drag racing,” Pruett said. “I prayed, and I hung on, slammed back down. 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.”
A defiant Pruett says the crash won’t hold her back.
“We’re definitely going to turn this thing around, this championship chase is not over, but just a little step back and we’ll catapult forward, I know that,” Pruett surmised.
In the second round of Funny Car, Alexis DeJoria neared the finish line at more than 320 miles per hour and prepared to deploy the parachutes after beating former world champion J.R. Todd, a cylinder misfired in the 11,000 horsepower engine. That failure started a chain reaction that led to a massive supercharger explosion that blew the body apart.
Although the explosion was spectacular, DeJoria was able to maintain her composure and get the car under control before it hit the retaining wall or anything else.
“It was definitely a crazy day,” DeJoria said. “It banged me up a little, but I think I’m all right. It was incredibly important (to get back in the car after the incident).”
Action was halted midway through the second round of Pro Stock car when it was deemed conditions were unsafe for the low downforce cars and motorcycles to continue. One round earlier, Kenny Delco lost control of his Camaro when it made a quick turn towards the wall. The car spins, impacted the wall, and rolled a couple of times. He was uninjured.
The Pro Stock Motorcycle eliminations were halted after two rounds of competition.
Action in the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Series was also postponed due to the cold temperatures and wind direction. There were no elimination runs made in the class on Sunday.
The carnage was not limited to the professional divisions. During the third round of Top Dragster eliminations, driver Philip Oakley’s dragster drifted towards the centerline and then made contact with the wall. It slid down the wall before coming to a rest. Oakley exited the car and was examined by the NHRA medical team before being transported to a local hospital.
A number of Lucas Oil Sportsman Drag Racing divisions were pushed over to Monday.
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