MORGAN LUCAS HOPES HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE GIVES HIM THE EDGE AT MAC TOOLS U.S. NATIONALS CLERMONT, Ind. - Morgan Lucas grew up in Southern California, but racing's lure eventually pulled him back to the state where his parents' successful oil ...
MORGAN LUCAS HOPES HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE GIVES HIM THE EDGE AT MAC TOOLS U.S. NATIONALS
CLERMONT, Ind. - Morgan Lucas grew up in Southern California, but racing's lure eventually pulled him back to the state where his parents' successful oil products business first blossomed. Today, Lucas Oil Products is highly visible throughout the world and especially in Indiana, where the company is not only involved in promoting world class auto racing events, but is also a major player as sponsor of the home field for the NFL's Indianapolis Colts, Lucas Oil Stadium.
Partly due to ease his heavy travel schedule and mostly to be near a hotbed of racing activity year round, Lucas relocated to the Circle City from the sunny West Coast a few years back, and now he feels more a part of Indianapolis than ever.
"I definitely consider Indy home," Lucas said. "It feels like home, as much as anything can when you travel as much as we do. My family is from Indiana so this has always been the place we've called home. We're from here. Since my folks signed on as sponsors of the Colts stadium in downtown, it's really raised the profile of our company, especially in Indianapolis. When you meet people and tell them your name the immediate question is, 'Are you related to the people that have the stadium?' It's like, 'yeah, that's mom and dad.' My parents are socialites now. It's pretty funny."
With two race victories this season in his GEICO Powersports/Lucas Oil dragster, Lucas is hoping to add another to his win column at the 55th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil, Sept. 2-7 at O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis. The tradition-rich race will be showcased during more than 10 hours of coverage on ESPN2 HD and it is the final regular season race in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series before the top 10 fields in each pro category are set for NHRA's six-race championship playoff, the Countdown to 1.
"Indy is always a very hectic weekend for us," Lucas said. "There are more demands on my time than usual and you kind of just have to put your head down and plow through it all. The race itself means so much to drag racers. It's certainly one you want to win at some point in your career. Living here, it takes on even more significance because all my friends and family are there wishing us well. Plus, everyone from the shop can come out with their families and enjoy a weekend at the races."
Lucas recently gave his parents - Forrest and Charlotte - a very special weekend in Brainerd, Minn., when he claimed a victory there from the No. 1 qualifying position. He says the win, his second of the season, is one that he is extremely proud of.
"The Brainerd race was so satisfying because we just out-performed everyone," Lucas said. "There were no lucky breaks, red lights, people smoking their tires or blowing up; we just beat everyone because we had the best car that day. It was a dream weekend with mom and dad there and being a Lucas Oil race. I don't know if I'll ever be able to top that."
Lucas now sits sixth in the Top Fuel points order and seems to have some momentum going as the 18-race NHRA regular season is winding down and the start of the six-race Countdown to 1 is just a few weeks away. At the beginning of the season he wanted to race consistently enough to win a race or two and make the Countdown to 1. Now, with both of those goals checked off his list, his competition must consider him a threat to win at any time, as well as a contender for the championship.
"We're not setting any more goals this year," Lucas said. "We're just going to do the best we can every race and see where it falls. I don't want the guys to feel like we have to push it any more than we already have been. Everything's working so good right now. There's no need to change the way we're doing things."
Other Top Fuel favorites at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals include series points leader Antron Brown, who has five victories this season in his Matco Tools dragster and has already clinched the No. 1 seed for the playoffs. Seven-time U.S. Nationals winner Tony Schumacher, who has won this race the last three seasons in his U.S. Army dragster, will try to tie legend "Big Daddy" Don Garlits' record of eight Indy wins. Three-time Indy winner Larry Dixon and two-time winner Cory McClenathan are always strong performers at this event.
Clay Millican and Joe Hartley will have a personal one-on-one battle going to secure the 10th and final spot in the Coutndown to 1. Millican currently sits in the 10th spot and leads hard-charging Hartley by three points.
SCHEDULE: The first of five pro qualifying sessions is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 4. Qualifying continues at noon and 5:45 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 5 and concludes at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 6. Ringers Gloves Pro Bike Battle eliminations are at 1:15 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 7:40 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 5. Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 7.
TICKETS: Tickets are available for the 55th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil by calling (800) 884-NHRA, or via the Web at www.ticketmaster.com.
ON TV: ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will televise more than 10 hours of coverage of the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil beginning on Sunday, Sept. 6 with NHRA Race Day, a 30-minute magazine show at 11 a.m., and followed by a two hour and 30 minute qualifying show at 11:30 a.m. (ET). A two-hour qualifying show will air later that day on ESPN2 HD at 5 p.m. (ET). On Monday, Sept. 7, ESPN2 HD will televise a one-hour NHRA Race Day from the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals preview show at noon (ET), followed by a five-hour eliminations show starting at 1 p.m. (ET).