Ri­valry, rev­elry help fuel Pritch­etts’ mar­riage

Leah, a driver, and Gary, a crew mem­ber for an­other, are both driven to do their best.

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Ben­jamin Arthur

MORRISON» Leah and Gary Pritch­ett may have the strangest mar­riage in the Na­tional Hot Rod As­so­ci­a­tion.

Leah is a top fuel driver for Don Schu­macher Racing. Gary hap­pens to be a crew mem­ber for Steve Tor­rence, an­other top fuel driver, who is spon­sored by Capco. So, yes, wife and hus­band are op­po­nents at the track.

Not only are they not on the same team, Leah and Tor­rence are each other’s top ri­val in 2017. Head­ing into Sun­day’s elim­i­na­tions at the Mile­high Na­tion­als, Tor­rence sits atop the NHRA top fuel stand­ings with 1,188 points. Leah is in sec­ond place, 101

points be­hind.

“We do the whole ‘sleep­ing on the couch’ joke thing,” Gary said of his wife. “We both want to be No. 1. At the end of the day, I want to see her do good, (my team) wants to do good.”

On race days, they don’t talk to each other — even as they stay in the same ho­tel room. They won’t even make eye con­tact.

“When we get (back) to the ho­tel, it’s nor­mal,” Gary said. “We’ll hang out. When we get to the race­track, it’s a whole dif­fer­ent ball­game.”

Leah and Gary met at the Mello Yello cir­cuit’s Amalie Motor Oil Ga­tor­na­tion­als in Gainesville, Fla., in 2011. The cou­ple have been mar­ried for four years, and they worked to­gether last year on one of Bobby and Dom La­gana’s cars when Leah lost her spon­sor­ship with Bob Van­der­griff Racing.

Leah will head into Sun­day’s fi­nal as the No. 1 qual­i­fier — a per­for­mance Satur­day high­lighted by her 3.733-sec­ond elapsed time run in the fourth qual­i­fy­ing ses­sion, an all-time best at Bandimere — and Tor­rence was third.

Leah said she re­ceived a con­grat­u­la­tory text mes­sage from her hus­band, that he was pumped about her per­for­mance Satur­day. But now the fo­cus turns to Sun­day, when she hopes to get her fourth win of the sea­son and close the gap with Tor­rence.

Tor­rence has five vic­to­ries in 13 races and a 33-8 record.

“I want to see her win as much as I want to win, but if it’s com­ing down to the fi­nal, the ul­ti­mate goal is a cham­pi­onship (for Capco),” Gary Pritch­ett said.

Andy Cross, The Den­ver Post

Top fuel racer Leah Pritch­ett launches off the start line dur­ing qual­i­fy­ing Satur­day en route to set­ting a Bandimere Speed­way record with an elapsed time of 3.733 sec­onds. Her speed was 326.24 mph.

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