Final-four finish places Lucas near top of class POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 10) -- Morgan Lucas weathered six days of rain delays to post a strong semifinal finish at the season-opening 49th annual Kragen O'Reilly NHRA Winternationals. The impressive...
Final-four finish places Lucas near top of class
POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 10) -- Morgan Lucas weathered six days of rain delays to post a strong semifinal finish at the season-opening 49th annual Kragen O'Reilly NHRA Winternationals. The impressive start ranks Lucas and his GEICO Powersports/Lucas Oil Top Fuel dragster a lofty fourth in the Full Throttle championship points.
In between countless rain storms, Lucas beat No. 2 qualifier Joe Hartley and Steve Chrisman with a pair of 3.8-second passes before encountering engine problems in a Round 3 loss to veteran Doug Kalitta.
"It's really satisfying to go some rounds after all that sitting around," Lucas said. "The crew guys still have to a lot of work every day even when it's raining so it's nice to be able to reward them with a semifinal finish. I always seem to go to the semis here. I think that's four out of five Winternationals where we've gone to the semis. It's a good start.
"I'm really happy with the car. For some reason we dropped a cylinder in Round 3 but we'll figure out what happened and get it fixed. I know my crew chief, Jimmy Walsh, won't sleep until he has the car perfect for Phoenix."
The Hartley race occurred Sunday and was effectively over at the starting line when Lucas left with a .063-second reaction time before zooming away to post a 3.846 at 310.20 mph, more than enough for Hartley's 3.955 at 307.37 mph.
Lucas used the best reaction time of the entire quarterfinal round (.048) to crush Steve Chrisman at the tree by a .048- to .181-second advantage, and then cruise to a 3.886 at 305.08 mph. Chrisman surrendered the race early after having problems with his car.
Against Kalitta, Lucas enjoyed another big headstart, this one a full three-hundredths of a second, but his motor wasn't happy and a consequent bout of tire shake forced him to lift off the accelerator. Seeing Kalitta well ahead at that point, Lucas smartly clicked off the engine and watched Kalitta cross with a 3.825 at 313.95 mph.
"I'm proud of my reaction time average (.059 seconds) this weekend because it's something I've been working on all winter long," Lucas said. "I know that if I can give Jimmy a steady performance at the tree than he can do more things with the car. It's all about being the best driver I can be.
"I would have loved to have won the race but I'm happy with this start. The people at GEICO Powersports are fired up about the season and Dad looked happy today so that was good to see. We'll get over to Phoenix and see if we can't do it again."
Up next for Lucas is the 25th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals, which run from Feb. 20-22 at Firebird International Raceway on the outskirts of Phoenix.