PRUETT-LeDUC Poised for NHRA History

Talented lady driver hopes to make drag racing history with first Pro Mod win during NHRA Mac Tools U.S. Nationals….

It’s amazing how much can change in a year. Leah Pruett-LeDuc can attest to that.

Just one year ago, Pruett-LeDuc was making her rounds in the NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Racing Series, competing with her Nostalgia Funny Car at tracks up and down the West Coast.

Leah Pruett-LeDuc will try to make Pro Mod history this weekend

Now, as the NHRA Get Screened America Pro Mod Drag Racing Series makes its eighth of 10 stops in 2011 at the prestigious Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil at historic Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis, Pruett-LeDuc will make her third appearance behind the wheel of her supercharged ProCare Rx ’68 Camaro, a car and a class that she has picked up very quickly.

“Yes, I can say the progression into the latter rounds has come quicker than expected when considering how competitive and random this class can be at times,” said Pruett-LeDuc, who in her first two race appearances in the class posted second-round and semifinal-round finishes. “To say that I did not expect to go rounds so soon because I am new to the class would be a false statement because every time I get into the car, I know I have a fighting chance of the win light coming on in my lane due to my confidence in Bob Newberry (crew chief), the crew and equipment. I am blessed to be a part of a pre-established competitive program, which I give the credit to our posted success.”

But for Pruett-LeDuc, the chance to compete in the most prestigious race on the NHRA Get Screened America Pro Mod circuit is a chance that she will never take for granted.

“Competing at the U.S. Nationals in a nutshell means you better bring your ‘A’ game,” said Pruett-LeDuc. “It is an honor to compete at the U.S. Nationals, especially in the super-dynamic and unpredictable class of Pro Mod. You would like to tell yourself it’s just another race, but really it is not. It’s the Big Go.”

Though a trip to the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals brings excitement and awe to racer and fan alike and competing at the event in the highly exciting Get Screened America Pro Mod Drag Racing Series brings added pressure, this is not Pruett-LeDuc’s first stop at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis.

“I have competed twice before in Indy during what I would consider high-pressure situations, the NHRA Jr. Drag Racing League National Championships when I was much younger, and was even a crew person on a fuel Funny Car last year in Indy,” said Pruett-LeDuc. “The history and prestige behind the U.S. Nationals alone is enough to give you goose bumps when thinking that you too will be a part of it.”

Leah's lady teammate Melanie Troxel is the driver of this Corvette and is a favorite to win at Indy

Though Pruett-LeDuc recognizes that 26 other competitors will be fighting for a chance to stand in the winner’s circle at Lucas Oil Raceway, the thought of winning her first Get Screened America Pro Mod Drag Racing event on the biggest stage in NHRA Drag Racing can’t help but cross her mind.

“I am not big on dreaming, as I am a doer more than a dreamer,” said Pruett-LeDuc. “But you can’t help but imagine how exhilarating that Sunday and Monday would be as you win round after round. I love envisioning myself at the U.S. Nationals, being on the starting line, staging, launching, shifting and controlling the car, all while keeping your cool and focusing on winning one round at a time. That’s what I love, the adrenaline.”

Pruett-LeDuc won’t be the only driver looking to walk away with the Wally in Indy. Points leader Khalid Balooshi swept the first two events of the season in his Speedtech ’68 Camaro but hasn’t returned to the winner’s circle since and is hoping to keep his championship hopes alive, and second-place driver Danny Rowe hopes to take the points lead from Balooshi with an Indy win. And don’t count out LeDuc’s teammate and defending Mac Tools U.S. Nationals winner Brad Personett, who is also hoping to make a charge up the point standings and race to his first win of 2011.

Featuring the world’s fastest and most unique doorslammer cars with an extremely diverse collection of vehicles, including ’63 Corvettes, ’68 Camaros, ’67 Mustangs, and ’68 Firebirds as well as late-model cars, the NHRA Get Screened America Pro Mod Drag Racing Series offers something for every kind of hot-rodding enthusiast.

(Bruce Biegler Photos)