Leah Pritchett returns to Bandimere Speedway with eyes on championship run

DENVER -- For Leah Pritchett, the idea of going 0 to 60 mph is child's play.

"We're capable of running high 320 mph," she said of the maximum speeds that Top Fuel dragsters can hit on the track.

Pritchett is no stranger to Bandimere Speedway. She first raced there when she was just 9 years old.

"When I got on this mountain and I was at the facility with the pros, who I would only see on TV, I could taste it in the air. There’s something about this ground space to me, it's history, it's legacy," she said.

More than two decades after her first race at Bandimere, Pritchett is a star in the sport. This weekend, she has returned to the track she competed at as a young driver for the Dodge Mile High Nationals. This time around, she has a faster ride. Her MOPAR Top Fuel dragster is an 11,000-horsepower race car.

For Pritchett and her crew, racing in Denver is both exhilarating and challenging due to the altitude.

"Typically we run more compression, more overdrive on the supercharger, less fuel and more timing," said assistant crew chief Joe Barlam.

With all her history at Bandimere Speedway, Pritchett says this race is her favorite of the year; but it's not just about enjoying the scenic track. She and her team are focused on one thing.

"This is a championship team and we are in a championship mindset,” said Pritchett. “It might not be in the countdown, but this is the staging process to it. There's a lot of fun, a lot of fans. There's a lot of great energy, but you step behind me and see the looks on these faces, it's all serious. It's all business."

Indeed, Pritchett is all business as she chases her first championship at blazing speeds.

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