Pritchett defended her Arizona Nationals title, which was the first of her Top Fuel career, in the same manner she won a year ago. Pritchett not only beat Brittany Force again in the third all-female final in NHRA history, but she did it again with superior reactions at the starting line.

The Papa John's dragster led by crew chief Todd Okuhara and assistant Joe Barlam set the world record with an elapsed time of 3.658 seconds in qualifying on Friday.

"Honestly, I'm trying to keep up with my team for how well they're doing and make them proud of me as a driver and do the job that is expected of a Don Schumacher Racing team," she said. "We're blessed with the equipment, the talent, the capabilities of the people and everyone it takes to make to (win). So, I'm happy that I could hold up my end of the bargain.”

With only 15 Top Fuelers at Phoenix, Pritchett got a bye in the first round and then defeated clay Millican and Steve Reed to get to the final, where her holeshot with a 3.705 at 328.22 mph overcame Force’s quicker 3.704 at 330.39.

Brittany Force took her Monster Energy Top Fuel dragster to her third final round in the last four races here at Wild Horse Motorsports Park, but she came up just short in a thrilling NHRA Arizona Nationals final round.

Force, who went to the final in 2014 and 2016, made a stellar pass of 3.704 seconds at 330.39 mph. But Leah Pritchett repeated as the Phoenix race winner with a run of 3.705 at 328.22 mph. The difference? Force had a slightly slower reaction time.

Force’s performance, though, vaulted her to third place in the Top Fuel points standings. 

 “It’s easy to get down on yourself when you go out on the final – and the same setup as last year,” Force said. “It’s pretty ironic how it worked out. But if you look at the bigger picture, we went to the final, we moved up quite a bit in points. We struggled coming in here, so to turn it around and have a great car and move up to third in points, that’s something to be proud of. 

“I’ll just have to pick up the pieces, go into Gainesville and hopefully we can find some luck and do it again there.”

Sunday, Force’s Monster Energy dragster was on a rail, making four passes at or under the 3.707-second mark. Her first pass, 3.676 at 328.94 mph, was low of the round, matched her career-best run, and bounced No. 10 qualifier Terry McMillen, who ran 3.760 at 321.58 mph.