Atlanta Steady Improvement Key for Don Lampus

ATLANTA (May 3) -- They didn't win the last drag race in Richmond, Va., but you'd never know it by the attitude of Top Fuel driver Don Lampus and his ExpressAutoParts.com team. After recording their best passes of the young season last weekend ...

ATLANTA (May 3) -- They didn't win the last drag race in Richmond, Va., but you'd never know it by the attitude of Top Fuel driver Don Lampus and his ExpressAutoParts.com team. After recording their best passes of the young season last weekend during qualifying in Virginia the group heads to Atlanta Dragway this weekend for the 20th annual Advance Auto Parts Nationals anxious to flex their horsepower once again.

Since the NHRA instituted a mandated 90-percent maximum of nitromethane in all professional team's fuel mixtures at the beginning of the season, Lampus and Co. had yet to dip into the 4.6-second range before Virginia. They knew that to compete on a consistent level with the elite teams of the class they would have to step up their performance and they did so last weekend with a pair of 4.6-second passes.

"We're really excited with the way we ran in Richmond," said Lampus, a 35-year-old from Dallas. "We ran a 4.69 right out of the trailer on Friday and then stepped it up to a 4.67 Saturday. Obviously, it paid immediate dividends because we started Race Day on the top half of the qualifying ladder for the first time ever in NHRA competition.

"What's been great about this season is that, as a group, we keep improving at every race. We've reset our career best elapsed time and top speed several times and now we've reached another performance goal that I know will help us stay close to the top teams. I couldn't be happier.

"I'm getting more and more confidence in the team and in the ExpressAutoParts.com dragster. I'm really proud of how this group of professionals is coming together. These guys want to win. You can see it in their work and the way they conduct themselves at the track. It's only a matter of time before we're going rounds at every race."

Lampus, the reigning 1999 IHRA world champion, continues to impress in his NHRA rookie campaign. He has successfully qualified for all six events on the schedule, has logged two elimination-round wins, and has earned enough championship points to stay in the top 10. He has also performed well enough in qualifying to anchor the eight-car Big Bud Shootout field, which is a special event race held for the sport's top eight drivers.

"If we maintain a consistent 4.6-second car and I drive well every lap on Race Day," Lampus said, "then we'll contend for the title of every race. The next stop is Atlanta. I've never been there but I hear the new track is as smooth as glass. I'm anxious to meet some new friends, get back in the car, and try for another win."

The elimination rounds of the 20th annual Advance Auto Parts Nationals will be broadcast from 4:30-6 p.m. (ET and PT) Sunday, on TNN. They will be rebroadcast at midnight.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Don Lampus