Maturing Lucas has GEICO team positioned nicely heading into Vegas
:LAS VEGAS (March 29) -- It's taken Top Fuel driver Morgan Lucas six and a half seasons to reach his current spot in drag racing's premier category, but finally, with the unwavering support of insurance giant GEICO and his parent's company, Lucas Oil, the sport's youngest nitro driver has arrived.
"We're right where we need to be," Lucas said. "You know, a lot is made of the people you're racing every weekend, the guy or girl in the other lane, but when you get down to it this sport is all about being the very best that you can be."
Getting an enormous lift from two-time world champion crew chief Dickie Venables and his longtime right-hand man Kurt Elliott, who joined the team in the twilight of the 2010 season, Lucas is finally being mentioned as a legitimate title contender. He's always had the pieces in place to win, but until Venables joined the team they never seemed to fit together properly.
"He's made a big difference obviously," Lucas said of Venables. "We ended last year on such a high note and that feeling carried us through the off-season. There was such a good vibe in the shop and I think that's one of the major reasons we were able to pull off a win to start the year. It's all just kind of came together.
"Let's be clear -- Alan Johnson is still the best in the business. That group has won a bunch of championships together and have dominated the last decade. But we've kind of adopted the philosophy that we can run with them. In fact, our goal isn't to catch them, it's to pass them.
"But there's only one way that's going to happen -- we need to outwork them."
It's interesting that Lucas uses reigning champion Larry Dixon and tuning guru Johnson as a measuring stick since Lucas and Dixon are currently tied for fourth place in the Full Throttle championship rankings. So far this year, Lucas has chalked up a win and a first-round loss, Dixon a first-round loss and a semifinal result, as well as a national elapsed time record, worth 20 bonus points.
"One of our primary goals coming into this season was to get both cars (including teammate Shawn Langdon's Lucas Oil/Speedco dragster) into the top five and then keep them there," Lucas said. "Shawn is third and we're fourth, so it's happening right now. Now we need to maintain our positions.
"The thought is we want to stay in the mix all year, earn a good spot heading into the Countdown (playoffs), and then be ready to strike. We owe it to ourselves and our sponsors to pull this off. So much work has gone into this."
As Lucas' attitude on the racetrack matures, so does his outlook on the next stop on the tour, Las Vegas, home to this weekend's 12th annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals.
"I used to think like a little kid," he said. "It was like, man, we're going to Vegas. It's time to party, hit the casinos, go to some clubs. But in our preseason meeting this year one of the things Dickie stressed was focus. Now I look at Vegas and I think about it as the next race on the schedule. It's a great track and one we like to compete at so we should have a good weekend.
"We like where we're at right now. The key is staying here."
- source: morgan lucas racing