FRUSTRATING FIRST ROUND LOSS LETS DOWN LUCAS INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 5) - Monday's final eliminations of the U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Park proved to be very disappointing for Morgan Lucas and the Joe Amato-owned Lucas Oil Top Fuel...
FRUSTRATING FIRST ROUND LOSS LETS DOWN LUCAS
INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 5) - Monday's final eliminations of the U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Park proved to be very disappointing for Morgan Lucas and the Joe Amato-owned Lucas Oil Top Fuel team. Unfortunately, his first-round race against Rod Fuller ended before the young Californian could get a chance to turn the first wheel in competition.
As part of their normal starting-line procedures, the crew started their powerful nitromethane-burning engine, only to discover fluid coming from one of the header pipes. Responding almost immediately, they correctly shut off the engine, giving Fuller a bye run where he ran a time of 4.562 seconds, 321.73 mph.
"The only thing I can figure out without going into the motor is that it looks like it broke a main stud (one of three inside the engine which holds the crankshaft in place)," said Amato Racing crew chief, Jim Dupuy. "From there, somehow it wedged the rod in the cylinder which eventually led to it breaking. As soon as it started, you could tell something was wrong. It was the first time in all my years in racing that I've seen something like this happen to us."
Likewise, the 21-year old Lucas had been optimistic going into eliminations and the dejected look on his face after returning to the pits told the entire story.
"I'm just heart broken," he said after qualifying in the ninth position on the 16-car grid with an elapsed time of 4.534 seconds, 325. 30 mph. "We never even got a chance to face those guys in the race. I would have preferred being defeated in an all-out drag race than not get a chance to run.
"It was obviously something we couldn't predict. We broke a main stud in the engine and kicked a rod out. That's racing, I guess. Out of the five qualifying runs we made, why couldn't have something like this have happened then and not on race day."
On a positive note, Morgan maintained his position of sixth in the NHRA POWERade Top Fuel points standings with 1064 points. He is now 310 points away from the new leader, Tony Schumacher with five races remaining on the NHRA schedule.
The next NHRA National event is the Toyo Tires Nationals at the Maple Grove Raceway on Sept. 15 - 18 in Reading, Pa.