With one qualifying round lost to rain on Thursday and rain threatening to return on Saturday, Morgan Lucas and the GEICO/Lucas Oil Top Fuel dragster team had a couple of choices on how to approach their Friday qualifying run at the NHRA Finals.
"A lot of people, because of looking at the weather forecast, were a little more conservative than they probably would be," Lucas said. "We're just happy to be in this position because it lets us have a chance to try some things tomorrow."
Lucas had the quickest time of the session by a wide margin, running a 3.761-second lap at 324.98 mph, earning the provisional No. 1 spot. The next closest time was by Khalid alBalooshi, who went 3.781 at 324.98 mph.
As good as the run was, Lucas said there was still more horsepower they could have squeezed out of it.
"We're having a problem with the car not wearing as much clutch as we normally would, and it's been consistent in that regard," Lucas said. "That run, for example, it didn't wear nearly as much as we wanted to in the clutch, and that affects how it locks up in the middle and how it's going to run to the middle of the race track.
"Normally, our car can run 288 mph to half-track for speed, and it went 286. It's one of those scenarios where I feel like there's some left out there."
Lucas was No. 1 qualifier at this track in the season opener back in February.
"We've got some good karma built up growing up around here," Lucas said. "I grew up in Riverside, about 25 minutes from here. Something about this place brings us some magic for us. It doesn't mean we always win or we always run great, but we come here with a little more confidence than we can go into a lot of tracks."
Lucas said he chalks up Friday's solid run to always wanting to push the team forward.
"Right now, we're looking at it like we're kind of getting ready for next year," Lucas said. "We just front-halved the car right before Vegas. We went in there, and it kind of threw us a little bit of a curve ball.
"We tested on Monday afterward and wasted that sixth and last test day. We were hoping we wouldn't even get close to using more than three. I guess when you're chasing points like we are right now, it matters."
Lucas Oil Racing