MORGAN LUCAS SET FOR THE SHOWDOWN AT SUNDOWN MADISON, Ill. (June 20) -- Morgan Lucas is set for the 'Showdown at Sundown' at Gateway International Raceway with the 10th annual running of the O'Reilly Midwest Nationals, the NHRA's only night time...
MORGAN LUCAS SET FOR THE SHOWDOWN AT SUNDOWN
MADISON, Ill. (June 20) -- Morgan Lucas is set for the 'Showdown at Sundown' at Gateway International Raceway with the 10th annual running of the O'Reilly Midwest Nationals, the NHRA's only night time race of the season.
As the runner-up finisher in 2005, Lucas negotiated his Lucas Oil Top Fuel dragster through a harrowing and hot racetrack with temperatures reaching over 150 degrees, defeating every opponent until the final round. Paired against good friend and rival, Brandon Bernstein under the starlit skies, he experienced tire shake on the much cooler track, forcing him to pedal his car, and, as a result, came up just shy of reaching the finish line first.
Schooled by that experience, he's now ready to move up a notch and do what has eluded him five times before -- winning his first NHRA POWERade Top Fuel race. Poised and confident, the young driver can't wait to reach the Midwest and once again pursue his dream.
"It's going to take a consistent tune-up to go down the track in that heat," said Lucas, who is currently tied for seventh in NHRA POWERade points standings. "It's being on top of your game, keeping your energy up in the heat, making sure of your focus, and not getting too tired. That is what it is going to take."
With a 3 p.m. start on Sunday, the Lucas Oil Racing team will be facing the toughest conditions of the entire season. It is the understanding and the previous knowledge of these tuning parameters that his co-crews, John Stewart and Ronnie Thompson will bring with them to aid in turning consistency into round wins.
"The track temperatures are extremely high, but the problem is that it's not just that it's hot, but it's hot all day long," said Lucas. "The humidity is also up, with a lot of water in the air so, on top of a really hot racetrack, you have really bad air making it harder to make horsepower. You have two major obstacles to overcome and it's proven to be one of the more pivotal races on the circuit. When the sun sets, it changes everything around. It's cooler for the last rounds of eliminations on Sunday, which builds up the excitement for the fans. You can see the header flames and a lot of cool racing action. It makes for a better show when it cools off."
The big question facing all teams is just how to set up the car to navigate these treacherous conditions. How will Morgan Lucas do it?
"Slip the clutch and pray," laughed Lucas "I don't know what else to say past that. (John) Stewart is a great clutch guy. He understands how to set up the clutch, and knows traction is everything. I have to put faith in my crew chiefs and my Lucas Oil team and see what we have."
The start of the O'Reilly Summer NHRA Nationals begins on Friday, June 23 with qualifying starting at 6:00 p.m. (CDT) and 9:00 p.m. Saturday's time trials start at 3:00 p.m. for the nitro classes followed by a second session at 8:00 p.m. The race starts promptly at 3 p.m. on Sunday, June 25.