Memphis: Lampus focused on one point

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Oct. 3) -- NHRA Rookie of the Year candidate Don Lampus has a point to make this weekend during the 13th annual AutoZone Nationals presented by Pennzoil. To be exact, Lampus literally needs one point to return to the Top 10 of the...

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Oct. 3) -- NHRA Rookie of the Year candidate Don Lampus has a point to make this weekend during the 13th annual AutoZone Nationals presented by Pennzoil. To be exact, Lampus literally needs one point to return to the Top 10 of the Winston championship points standings, a group he's been a part of after 15 of 19 races this season but slipped out of by the slenderest of margins at the last stop in Topeka, Kan.

After qualifying in the top half of Topeka's elimination field with his second quickest elapsed time of the year, Lampus encountered mechanical problems on race day and blew the motor on his ExpressAutoParts.com Top Fuel Dragster during his opening round pass. By rule, the resulting oildown -- his only one of the year on race day -- cost Lampus 10 championship points and handed Dave Grubnic the No. 10 spot by one point.

"Being out of the Top 10 is just about all I've thought of since Sunday," Lampus said. "We've worked so hard to maintain our position and it's killing me that we backed out the way we did. I guess we should be proud of the fact that we've only had one race day oildown while just about everyone else has had at least a couple of them. But somehow that doesn't make me feel any better and I know the guys feel the same way.

"It's crucial for all of us on this ExpressAutoParts.com team to do whatever we need to do to get back in the Top 10. It's the only thing on our minds. To make sure it happens we need to go some rounds on race day and put ourselves in a position to win.

"I'm convinced we have one bad hot rod on our hands. We started over to a certain extent in Topeka with a new crew chief. Obviously, Wayne (Dupuy) does things a little differently so it took a few runs to get up to speed. For instance, we went through three different fuel systems in Topeka; that's unheard of. But I think we're pretty close to where we need to be now and we're all anxious to get back on track and back in the Top 10."

Just has he has on most of the stops on the NHRA tour, Lampus enters Memphis Motorsports Park with no personal data on the track due to the fact that he's never raced there before. But the reigning IHRA Top Fuel champion does know a thing or two about winning races and he hopes to parlay that experience into a successful weekend.

"We've got enough experience on this team that we've been able to overcome my lack of local knowledge," said Lampus, who has qualified for 18 races and won six elimination rounds in 2000. "No matter the circumstances, I expect big things to happen in Memphis."

Qualifying highlights will air at 8 p.m. (ET), Saturday, on Speedvision. Same-day coverage of the elimination rounds will be begin at 5:30 p.m. (ET), Sunday, also on Speedvision.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Don Lampus