Lucas the No. 1 qualifier at company's title race -- the Lucas Oil Nationals

BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 15) -- The smiles were plentiful in the Lucas Oil pit after team owner and driver Morgan Lucas secured his fourth career No. 1 qualifier at the race sponsored by the family business, Lucas Oil. With his parents and company founders Charlotte and Forrest Lucas looking on from the starting line, Morgan zoomed to a 3.868 at 307.16 mph to earn top billing at the 28th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals.

"It doesn't get any better than this," Lucas said. "At least not in qualifying. The ultimate would be standing here tomorrow night with the trophy, but this is certainly a great moment for our team, our company, and my parents.

"We really didn't step on it too hard last night and we ran a 3.92 so when we came up today Jimmy said he had it hopped up. The car responded. It's really been showing us lots of signs of running well lately and we've had several sessions where we're the quickest car so I like how things are going."

Adding to the excitement was the fact Lucas Oil team members Hector Arana and Frank Manzo earned the No. 1 spots in Pro Stock Motorcycle and Top Alcohol Funny Car, respectively.

"In 2004 I won this race in my Top Alcohol Dragster and turned around and won the other race Lucas Oil sponsored in Reading, Pa., and to have my mom and dad hand me the trophy at the top end at those two events was pretty emotional," Lucas said. "I can't wait for the day I can hand them a Top Fuel trophy to say thanks for all they've done for me. If that happens at a Lucas Oil race, it would be the ultimate.

"Maybe me and Hector and Frank can do some damage tomorrow. I know we have a great car right now and I can't wait to hit the track."

Sunday's first round will feature the 25-year-old Lucas opening against 79-year-old legend Chris "the Greek" Karamesines.

"It'll be an honor to race him," Lucas said. "He's one of my all-time heroes."

Across the pit, Shawn Langdon and the Lucas Oil/Dixie Chopper team have struggled a bit at this event. They ended qualifying in 12th place after a 4.101 at 254.86 mph and will race Doug Kalitta (3.905 at 311.27 mph) in the opening session of eliminations.

"We're dropping cylinders for some reason," Langdon said. "The guys are going through the car top to bottom to make sure everything is okay. I'm sure we're going to be okay. It's just a little frustrating when you have things like this happen.

"It's cool that Morgan is running so well because we can peek over their shoulders and see what's happening with their tune-up and apply that to our car. That's the beauty of a two-car team."

-credit: mlr