Smoke signals end to Pruett's run at R2B2 Racing
LAS VEGAS, NV – The NHRA Pro Mod Series presented by ProCare Rx season ended in a puff of smoke rather than the pop of a champagne cork for Leah Pruett and the R2B2 Racing turbo ProCare Rx Ford Mustang team.
Pruett had raced to the semifinals of Sunday's Big O Tires NHRA Nationals and was racing fellow turbo driver Don Walsh. She recalls having a great feeling about her run until half track.
"It was the quickest emotional roller coaster in history," Pruett said. "I knew I had him off the line. You can tell when you cut a good light. I was out front and never saw him.
"I got to the half-track timers and a puff of smoke comes out of the left side. I knew instantly the turbo let go. A split second later the motor shut off. Then his red Mustang went flying by me. That was it."
Walsh crossed the line in 5.917 seconds at 251.58 mph with Pruett finishing in 6.704 seconds at 159.21 mph.
"My heart just sank into my stomach," she said. "We go into every race thinking we can win, and we really wanted to defend our Las Vegas race title. We'd been chasing problems on Saturday and today, both, and we were able to pinpoint it to that turbo that just broke."
On the way to the semis, Pruett beat Dennis Radford and Rickie Smith in the first and second rounds, respectively. Against Radford, Pruett ran a 5.957-second lap at 250.09 mph with Radford crossing in 6.107 at 197.31 mph. In the second round against Smith, Pruett ran a 6.199 at 241.63 mph. Smith made it in 14.571 seconds at 58.56 mph.
"It's a bittersweet end to the season," Pruett said. "We wanted to go out with a bang, but everyone on the team is ending the year with warm feelings. This is the last race for this group for R2B2 Racing as it's constructed.
"I can't think Roger Burgess enough for the opportunity he gave me for the last two years. He gave me a chance to prove myself as a driver and expand my driving talents in Pro Mod and Funny Car. I'll always be in his debt for what he's done for me."
Pruett said her immediate plans are up in the air.
"Right now I just plan to going to our banquet and celebrating the season with my teammates," she said. "After that, I'm exploring all the options on the table. I've always had a passion for nitro, and I hope to get an opportunity to race on that level next season.
"But any opportunity out there is rare and I'll entertain any job offer that comes my way."