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Pruett Repeats as Charlotte Pro Mod Winner

It’s not taken very long for zMax Dragway to become one of Leah Pruett’s favorite places on Earth.

Pruett won the NHRA Pro Mod Series presented by ProCare Rx race at the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals for a second consecutive year. She guided the ProCare Rx turbo Ford Mustang around Mike Knowles in the final round to secure the victory. Pruett also reached the final in the spring race at zMax Dragway earlier this year.

“It feels phenomenal,” Pruett said. “To think that the three times I’ve been here in this car, I’ve reached the finals all three times and won twice. At the beginning of this race, I had a good feeling about getting to the final round and back in the winner’s circle.

Leah Pruett

“I’m so proud of what everyone on this R2B2 Racing team has done,” she added. “We’ve now won back-to-back events (after her teammate and crew chief, Brad Brand, won the previous week in Indianapolis), which is very cool. They’ve been keeping me pumped up and helped me with my reaction times. The worst reaction time I had all day today was a .039.”

Against Knowles, Pruett had her best reaction time of the weekend to launch to a final pass of 5.936 seconds at 246.44 mph. Knowles got out of shape early and coasted to a pass of 9.088 at 102.78 mph, but Pruett didn’t know what was going on behind her.

“That final round was one of the edgiest passes I’ve had in this car in a long time,” she said. “If it would have been anything but a final round, there would have been a little bit of lifting going on. It was pretty gnarly.

“All I knew was that I didn’t see him, which means I was in front of him. All that meant I had to keep going. That would have been the worst feeling in the world to see someone go flying by you if you lifted in the finals.”

Along the way to her first victory of the season, Pruett beat teammate/car owner Roger Burgess, number-one qualifier Don Walsh and Kevin McCurdy. “It stunk to have to race Roger first round,” she said. “But he said, ‘Now that you’ve beat me, you have to win – boss’ orders.’”

In the first round, Pruett finished in 5.993 seconds at 249.49 mph to Burgess’ 6.048 at 251.34 mph. In the second, Pruett ran a 6.010 at 242.23 mph to Walsh’s 7.044 at 155.49 mph. Her pass in the semi-finals was a 5.883 at 248.61 mph to McCurdy’s 8.285 at 114.54 mph.

On Sunday (Sep.16), Pruett and her team had to wait a few anxious hours for racing to begin following a rain delay, then waited another couple of hours for the Pro Mods’ turn to race.

“Waiting that long for the second round was so nerve wracking,” she admitted. “You’ve got everybody waiting all day and you don’t want to let anybody down by going out so early.

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With the win, Pruett moved up to the fifth spot in the Pro Mod standings. She’s currently one point out of fourth and 12 points out of third.

“We want to end the year on top and run the table in our last four races of the year,” she said. “We’re halfway there. We are going to celebrate tonight; then it’s back to the track tomorrow morning to test our two cars and I’m also going to get my crossover Top Fuel license with Dote Family Racing as well.”

It’s safe to say it’s a big weekend for the young lady from California.

Meanwhile, Mike Castellana advanced to the semifinals and maintained his series points lead over second place Rickie Smith, who lost in the first round.

The ninth race in the 10-event NHRA Pro Mod Series presented by ProCare Rx will be held Sept. 28-30, with the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at the Gateway Motorsports Park near St. Louis.

(Photos courtesy NHRA/National Dragster; Click to enlarge)

CONCORD, N.C. — Final round-by-round results from the Fifth annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries at zMax Dragway, the eighth of 10 events in the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by ProCare Rx: 


ROUND ONE — Leah Pruett, Ford Mustang, 5.993, 249.49 def. Roger Burgess, Chevy Corvette, 6.048, 251.34; Kevin McCurdy, Chevy Camaro, 6.093, 235.51 def. Troy Coughlin, Camaro, 11.168, 80.46; Donald Martin, Camaro, 5.889, 247.25 def. Steve Matusek, Mustang, 6.062, 249.63; Mike Knowles, Camaro, 6.073, 237.92 def. Shannon Jenkins, Camaro, foul; Mike Castellana, Camaro, 9.953, 90.86 def. Pete Farber, Dodge Daytona, broke; Todd Tutterow, Plymouth Duster, 5.912, 250.69 def. Rickie Smith, Camaro, 5.969, 244.21; Danny Rowe, Camaro, 5.904, 246.66 def. Rick Stivers, Camaro, 6.025, 236.63; Don Walsh, Mustang, 5.884, 254.81 def. Doug Winters, Chevy Bel Air, 6.499, 178.26;  QUARTERFINALS — Knowles, 5.888, 245.14 def. Martin, 8.428, 112.55; McCurdy, 6.866, 165.36 def. Tutterow, foul; Castellana, 5.931, 241.07 def. Rowe, 5.909, 246.98; Pruett, 6.010, 242.23 def. Walsh, 7.044, 155.69; SEMIFINALS — Knowles, 9.991, 89.33 def. Castellana, foul; Pruett, 5.883, 248.61 def. McCurdy, 8.285, 114.54; FINAL — Pruett, 5.936, 246.44 def. Knowles, 9.088, 102.78.

This story was originally published on September 17, 2012. Drag Illustrated

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