Lucas Oil drag racer Carter leaves his mark on Santa Pod

NORTHAMPTON, England (Sept. 11) -- Britain Andy Carter was the big star Saturday at Santa Pod Raceway as qualifying for the FIA Finals drew to a close in grand style.

Racing before a partial home crowd, Carter drew the loudest cheers of the weekend when he roared to a 4.572 at 320.19 mph -- the quickest and fastest Top Fuel run in European history. The pass backed up his Friday mark of 4.613 seconds at 298.82 mph to give his Lucas Oil-sponsored group the official FIA elapsed time record, worth 20 bonus points.

"Being No. 1, setting a new track record here at home, and a new FIA record, this really means the world to me," said Carter, the back-to-back and reigning Top Fuel champ. "The run was spot-on perfect from the time I left the line. It put my head back hard on the rest and it stuck there all the way through. It felt as though I could have kept accelerating forever.

"In the past I've not enjoyed these moments as much but I've learned that they're so few and far between that you need to milk 'em and make the most of it. My pit is absolutely mobbed-up with people and the hugs and kisses are going around with all of us. I'm so happy for the crew and people here from Lucas Oil, my great sponsors for all this time."

Carter held the previous ET record of 4.703 seconds for the last three years. The old speed mark of 314.87 mph was set by Switzerland's Urs Erbacher at this track in May.

The current Top Fuel points leader, Erbacher moved up to third on the qualifying sheets Saturday with a 4.843 at 298.28 mph, while Risto Poutianen of Finland, who is battling Erbacher for the 2010 title, ended qualifying between Carter and Erbacher in second place with a 4.768 at 309.51 mph.

"Mathematically, we could still win the championship but it's not likely at all," Carter said. "Second place is much more realistic and that's what we're hoping for. To finish first, first, and second in the last three years is very respectable indeed."

-source: lucas oil racing