HOUSTON (Feb. 18) -- Morgan Lucas, driving his family owned Lucas Oil A-Fuel dragster, overcame a tire-chattering final round to recover just long enough to outdistance himself from Spencer Massey at the 20th annual Sportsman Challenge at Houston Raceway Park on Sunday.

As part of the South Central Division of the NHRA Lucas Oil Division 4 series, Lucas recorded an uncharacteristic winning elapsed time of 5.605 seconds in the final round. He qualified in the No. 2 position in with a last ditch effort of 5.371 seconds, 264.55 mph on Saturday before marching through the strong field of Texas contestants.

"We would have liked to have run a lot better in qualifying," said Lucas, who is campaigning for two national NHRA dragster titles. "The problem with our A-Fuel car is that we're making so much power, so much more power than we've ever made before, and we can barely get it all to the ground right now. We have to start reworking some things in the drive train to accommodate for it. It's a great problem to have and once we get it worked out, look out, we're going to be flying."

His opening lap against Darvin Martinets declared his Steve Boggs-tuned alcohol rocket would be a contender for the day, launching strong, running a time of 5.274 seconds at a speed of 270.92 mph, a time equal to low E.T. of the meet.

Against Shawn Langdon in the semi-finals, Lucas rapidly increased his potential for contention of the title with low E.T. of the meet after flashing through the timing clocks with a time of 5.271 seconds, 268.54 mph.

The finals matched the No. 1 and No. 2 qualifiers in a Sportsman Challenge final with the results coming to a quick end when Spencer Massey spun his tires on the launch with his car's engine popping and banging. However, Lucas also shook, but quickly pedaled his way to the finish to run his slowest, although good enough to win, time of eliminations of 5.605 seconds, 271.79 mph, top speed of the meet.

"We just basically went into Sunday just trying to go down the racetrack and win the rounds we needed to win," said Lucas. "In the finals, the cool down of the track caused us shake the tires. Thank goodness for us Spencer had smoked the tires and red-lighted. They had a great running car also that could have easily gone down the track and run a 5.27 against us."

Lucas' last sportsman wins came in 2006 with back-to-back victories at the Infineon Raceway in Sonoma back in August in preparation for this test in his run for the Lucas Oil National championship. His impressive final round tally stands at a .916 percentage with 11 victories taken out of 12 final round appearances.

Lucas will get behind the wheel of his 7,000 horsepower Top Fuel dragster for the running of the 23rd annual Checker, Schuck's Kragen NHRA National event at Firebird International Raceway next weekend on Feb. 23 -- 25.

-credit: lor