DALLAS (Oct. 21) -- Competing in his first race in nearly a year, Top Fuel driver Don Lampus called today's quarterfinal showing at the 16th annual O'Reilly Fall Nationals presented by Castrol Syntec a "very successful outing." Lampus' enthusiasm...
DALLAS (Oct. 21) -- Competing in his first race in nearly a year, Top Fuel driver Don Lampus called today's quarterfinal showing at the 16th annual O'Reilly Fall Nationals presented by Castrol Syntec a "very successful outing." Lampus' enthusiasm stems from the fact he bagged his first elimination-round victory during today's action before suffering a huge engine explosion in Round 2, which allowed opponent Mike Dunn by for the win.
"I couldn't have asked for much more out of this weekend," Lampus said. "It seems like we did it all. I had some great runs, I had a tire-smoker, we had a problem at the line and had to back out, we turned on the win light on Sunday, and we had a boomer. Welcome back!
"Considering we've been sidelined for a year I'm totally happy with how this weekend went down. The guys worked well together and we showed we have a competitive race car. That's what we set out to do. We want to have this car ready for next year. Getting a win light today and having a chance to get another one in Round 2 was gravy."
Lampus showed some impressive driving acumen in his opening-round victory over Rhonda Hartman-Smith. Both drivers lost traction off the starting line and had to pedal the accelerator several times to regain traction. But it was Lampus who took control of his 6,000 horsepower machine first and he streaked over the finish line with an elapsed time of 5.673 seconds at 195.86 mph, in front of Hartman-Smith's 6.213 at 210.52 mph.
In the quarterfinals, Lampus got a slight jump on rival Dunn at the starting line with a .483 to .501-second reaction time and was ahead for a moment before his engine exploded in a huge fireball that allowed Dunn by for an easy 4.651 to 5.146-second win.
"I can't wait to see this on TV," said Lampus, who has committed to run the last three races of the 2001 season. "They tell me it was quite an explosion. I felt the motor let go but had no idea I was on fire all the way down the track. The Safety Safari finally pulled me over at the top end and hosed me down. The good news is that I'm fine. I just wish we had won the round. I was ahead for a little while but when the engine let go he was by me in a flash. It was still a lot of fun to be out here competing."
The best run of the weekend for the 37-year-old Dallas-based Lampus was his 4.626-second blast at 309.59 mph that he posted in qualifying. The lap was good enough to place him in the top half of the elimination field heading into today's action.
There are still a few chances to catch portions of this race on ESPN2. Elimination coverage airs from 4-6 p.m. (ET) today. A repeat of the elimination-round package will run from 9-10 p.m. (ET) later this evening and again from 2-3 p.m. (ET) Tuesday.