Two Wins and Runner Up Cap Stellar Weekend for Team Speed Society!
Team Speed Society’s drivers racked up some shiny new hardware over the weekend ...
Team Speed Society’s drivers racked up some shiny new hardware over the weekend at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals in Bristol, TN. The teams battled sweltering Tennessee heat and humidity, intermittent rain showers, and tricky track conditions throughout the weekend as the series nears the halfway point of the season. Nothing could be taken for granted as intermittent clouds would swing track temps in a matter of minutes and rain showers threw curveballs at the crew chiefs throughout the day on Sunday.
In Pro Stock, Alex Laughlin fought his way from the middle of the pack in qualifying to the final round by relying on a consistent race car and great reaction times throughout eliminations. In the opening round, Laughlin faced off with class veteran Allen Johnson and slapped a .028 advantage on him off the line, holding on to win by the slimmest of margins over the quicker Johnson, taking the win by just .002 of a second, or approximately 9 inches. In the second round, Laughlin dodged a potential bullet when Elite Performance teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr, widely considered one of the best drivers in the sport, drove into tireshake around the 1-2 gear change and had to push in the clutch while Alex’s Gas Monkey Energy Camaro made a picture-perfect run in the heat of the day.
The in semifinals, Laughlin would face off with Tanner Gray in a rematch the fans love to see since the two famously exchanged words at the Springnationals earlier this season. This one was over before it started when Tanner turned on the red light, though Alex would have been hard to beat with a .012 reaction time and a solid 6.76 to earn a final round matchup with Bo Butner. Knowing Butner had also had a great car all day, Alex put his skills to the test in the final when he pushed dumped the clutch and recorded a perfect .000 reaction time to Bo’s .038, a massive advantage in the world of Pro Stock. However, Laughlin’s crew had nailed the tuneup and watched as Alex extended his lead at each interval to take the win by a full car length as he crossed the stripe. The win made Laughlin the eighth different winner in the class this season. It is his second career win and first this season.
In Top Fuel, it was an all-Speed Society final when Tennessee native Clay Millican faced off with Leah Pritchett in a bit of a David vs Goliath battle in Thunder Valley. Millican qualified fourth and opened eliminations with a win in a tire-smoking pedalfest over Kyle Wurtzel, competing in his first race of the season. On the other side of the ladder, #3 qualifier Pritchett had a similar race with Troy Coughlin Jr., both drivers battling tiresmoke through the 1,000 foot mark. Moving into the second round, Pritchett dodged a huge bullet when her Papa John’s dragster blew the tires off at the hit while Scott Palmer streaked toward the finish line. However, Palmer’s 3.93 second run was negated by a foul start, which put Leah into the semifinals. Meanwhile, Millican needed every bit of performance in his Great Clips/Parts Plus sponsored hotrod as Brittany Force gave him all he wanted in a great side-by-side drag race.
The slightly rain-delayed semifinals proved to be tough tests for both Millican and Pritchett. Clay once again needed everything his dragster could muster as he laid down a beautiful 3.81 at 319 MPH to take out number one qualifier Steve Torrence’s 3.94 to earn his tenth final round appearance. Pritchett faced off with Shawn Langdon in the other semifinal and recorded the quickest pass of eliminations to take the win, 3.78 to Langdon’s 3.90 ET. Langdon had left first but dropped a cylinder at the hit, allowing Leah to drive around and take the win pulling away.
Clay, who had raced for 19 years and 228 events without finding the winner’s circle, facing off with Pritchett, who had led the points for most of the season thanks to winning the first three events and going deep into eliminations almost every weekend since, was almost a storybook ending to the weekend. The two staged up and put on a hell of a show for the fans, laying down side-by-side 3.8 second passes. Leah strapped a pretty big holeshot on Clay when the tree dropped, but dropped a cylinder shortly off the line, and that was all the opening Millican needed to drive around her at half track. Finally, after nearly two decades of trying, Millican turned on the win light in the final round with a beautiful 3.82 ET to Leah’s 3.88, getting Clay to the line first by about half a car length.
We send out sincerest congratulations to Alex, Clay and Leah, each of whom made us very proud to be a part of their team. We hope everybody carries this momentum on through the season and adds to the trophy collection!