Video: Leah Pritchett escapes injury as NHRA Top Fuel dragster blows tire at Chicagoland

Leah Pritchett escaped serious injury on Sunday.

Top-five Top Fuel racer Leah Pritchett displayed her driving skill Sunday in controlling her Okuma Dragster after a massive explosion blew away her right rear tire during eliminations at the NHRA Route 66 Nationals at Joliet, Ill.

Pritchett’s engine detonated early into her first-round pass against T.J. Zizzo, and she quickly brought it to a halt.

“We’ll race another day,” she said moments after exiting her car uninjured. “I’m most disappointed this moment we weren’t able to turn on the win light for Okuma right now. We’re trying to get our ducks in a row [financially] so we can potentially race at Topeka. That’s what’s next, hopefully.”

Zizzo, who had just told her in the staging lanes, “Good luck and be safe,” said, “When you see something like that happen, you know juts how dangerous this sport is.” He said when he puts his children on the school bus and goes to the dragstrip some days, he knows he “may not see them again, because this is a dangerous sport. But the NHRA keeps this as safe as they can. We have great professional drivers out here.

“Leah did a great job getting that thing to a stop. Hat’s off to her,” he said. “But I will tell you now, to see something like that happen and the damage that it causes, it’s just nice to see she’s safe.”

Early assessment at the scene pointed to the failure of the rear-end coupler that connects the clutch to the rear end. But the Todd Okuhara-led crew at Don Schumacher Racing will decide what happened for certain.

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