Pomona III: Lampus preview

Instant successes points to promising future for Lampus POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 6) -- One of the happiest racers at this weekend's 37th annual Auto Club of Southern California NHRA Finals isn't fighting for a Winston championship, or a significant...

Instant successes points to promising future for Lampus

POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 6) -- One of the happiest racers at this weekend's 37th annual Auto Club of Southern California NHRA Finals isn't fighting for a Winston championship, or a significant spot in the points standings, or even a special award. In fact, the reason for Top Fuel racer Don Lampus Jr.'s inerasable smile is a simple one -- he's just glad to be here.

The reigning Winston Rookie of the Year has regrettably been sidelined for most of the 2001 season while searching for a new title sponsor. Now, with a pending three-year deal in hand, Lampus has returned to action to once again baptize himself and his race team in the world of 320-mph straight-line racing.

So far, the 37-year-old's return has been very promising. Initially, Lampus was hoping only to use the last three events of the year as a glorified test-and-tune session in anticipation of a title run in 2002. But instead, the tall Texan has sent a clear message to the rest of the 4.5-second, quarter-mile club that his Wayne Dupuy-tuned dragster is for real. Lampus already has racked up three elimination-round wins in just two events, including a stunning semifinal appearance in Las Vegas at the expense of '01 title contender Larry Dixon.

"Considering what we've accomplished in such a short amount of time, I wouldn't be surprised if we're run career-best numbers this weekend," said Lampus, who has topped out at 4.58-seconds and 322 mph so far. "That's how much faith I have in my crew and in Wayne Dupuy. Obviously, the guys have already proven that they know how to build a fast race car and Wayne and Chris [Cunningham] are aggressive as ever with the tune-up.

"I'm extremely please with our performance and it really has us all excited about next year. I admit; I was nervous when I came back because it seemed like such a long time since I'd been in the car. But after one pass, it seemed like I'd never left.

"We're all very anxious to announce our new deal. It's just not quite sewn up yet. I know everyone wants to know who it is and believe me, we're all very anxious to spread the word. Our time will come soon enough. We just need a little more time."

Both ESPN networks will broadcast portions of the 37th annual Auto Club of Southern California NHRA Finals. An early package of qualifying highlights will air from 4-6 p.m. (ET), Saturday, on ESPN2, with a later showing from 11 p.m.-1 a.m. (ET), Saturday, on ESPN. Elimination action will run in primetime from 7-10 p.m. (ET), Sunday, on ESPN2, with a repeat showing from 2-4 p.m. (ET), Friday, Nov. 16, on ESPN2.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Don Lampus