Brainerd smiles on GEICO racer Lucas once again
BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 20) -- He should have seen it coming.
Top Fuel racer Morgan Lucas admits that 2011 has been a bit of a struggle since his season-opening victory at the Winternationals in Pomona, Calif. Add in the fact the GEICO-sponsored racer hasn't won an elimination round in two months and it would have been tough to fault the sport's youngest nitro professional from being down.
But there's nothing like a trip to Brainerd International Raceway to make the kid from Indiana smile.
"I love this place," Lucas exclaimed after securing just his second top-half qualifying berth of the season Saturday afternoon. "The fans here are great. They treat my family with such respect and I get to fall under that umbrella. My dad seems like a hero around here. It's an honor to race in front of these folks. I couldn't think of a better place to have my first Top Fuel race ever back in 2004. I'm excited about being here now and I feel really blessed to get the reception we do."
Lucas earned the No. 7 position with a season-best qualifying run of 3.857 at 321.81 mph in his GEICO/Lucas Oil dragster. The 2009 Brainerd champion will now open eliminations with lane choice over Bob Vandergriff, who posted a best pass of 3.875 seconds at 318.54 mph.
"The car showed us that all the right parts and pieces are there, and that the potential to win is there," Lucas said. "Making it repeat from run to run is something we've struggled with all season. It would be great if this is the start of something for us. Heading into the playoffs is when you want to peak. If we can just be on our game tomorrow and if I can do my job on the starting line, I think we can win this deal.
"We've got a good first-round matchup with Vandergriff. It's one of those situations where we have our own destiny in our hands. If we go up there and beat him and a couple other things go our way, we can clinch our spot in the Countdown. If we can do that here then we can go to Indy and really try to get after this thing. We don't like to have to play it safe all the time.
"We've got a chance to do something special here and I can't think of a better place for us to turn the corner."