VANDERGRIFF TALKS ABOUT HIS TEAM’S CHANGES
Change is happening Bob Vandergriff’s Top Fuel Racing team.
Vandergriff will once again campaign a two dragster team in 2016 – Dave Connolly will remain as one driver and Leah Pritchett will be his new teammate and she will be driving a dragster backed by Quaker State.
Pritchett replaces three-time world champion Larry Dixon, who finished fourth in the points last season highlighted by six runner-up finishes.
“On one side it’s tough, but it is business and you have to make some tough decisions sometimes,” Vandergriff said. “I’m excited about the future and the direction our team is headed.”
Vandergriff also addressed the perception that Prichett bought the ride out from under Dixon.
“It couldn’t be further from the truth,” Vandergriff said. “We tried the best we could over the last few months to try and create enough funding to keep two C&J (Energy Services) cars out there, and in the end it wasn’t possible with the downturn oil industry and the way that program was funded creatively through the vendors, we just couldn’t create enough funding. There just wasn’t going to be two C&J cars for 2016 as hard as we tried. We were either going to have to contract back to one team, or look in other directions to keep our two teams out there and it’s important to us to keep our two teams out there. This opportunity presented itself to us from a business relationship and it’s one we had to pursue to keep moving forward. I’m excited about the opportunities. I’m disappointed we weren’t able to keep the other program going, and that’s not to say it will not return in the future, it is just in 2016 there just wasn’t enough funding to run two C&J cars.”
Connolly, in his first season piloting a Top Fuel dragster, placed 10th in the points, highlighted by three runner-up efforts. Pritchett competed in 16 races last season for Dote Racing and had one runner-up performance.
Vandergriff acknowledged he will add more sponsorships for dragsters.
“We will announce another one for Leah’s car that’s is going to be a few race program as a primary (sponsor) and associate the rest of the year. We’re still working on filling that car out. We do have enough money to run it either way, but we’re trying to bring more partners to that program right now.”
Vandergriff also is aware about the changes NHRA is making for 2016.
“We’re cautiously optimistic,” Vandergriff said. “Right wrong or indifferent there seems to be a lot of moves being made so I applaud that. It is definitely not the stand pat attitude we’ve seen in the past, so from that standpoint I’m excited as least what they’re trying to do over there, and I hope it all works out for the better because it will make my job easier.”