KEYSTONE STATE OFFERS HOME TRACK ADVANTAGE FOR LUCAS READING, PA. (Sept. 12) - The home track advantage that Pennsylvania drag racing icon, Joe Amato, brings to Maple Grove Raceway for the running of the 21st annual Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals...
KEYSTONE STATE OFFERS HOME TRACK ADVANTAGE FOR LUCAS
READING, PA. (Sept. 12) - The home track advantage that Pennsylvania drag racing icon, Joe Amato, brings to Maple Grove Raceway for the running of the 21st annual Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals may just be the recipe for rising star Morgan Lucas. Ready to rebound and perform to the best of their abilities, the Lucas Oil Racing team bid for the POWERade Top Fuel championship moves to a re-energizing position as they hope to recover their stride and earn a major win in 2005.
Amato, the most prolific Top Fuel driver in the history of the NHRA with 52 career wins out of 99 title round appearances, earned two of those at Maple Grove Raceway (1999, '00) and, after reaching five final rounds with Lucas behind the wheel in his brief driving span, the Moosic, Pa. native has a great deal of respect for the young Californian's driving talents.
"The fans love him," said Amato of his driver with pride. "Morgan is maturing as a driver and getting some quality seat time. This team is gelling after having some ups and downs with changes in the people here, but you know that's how racing is sometimes. He's good on the track and learning all the time. He has an open mind and will get his chance to shine. Like everything else in life, look at how John Force was a runner-up candidate nine times before winning his first race and see where he is now."
Meanwhile, Lucas has only one professional start at Maple Grove Raceway and although he lost in the first round to Doug Herbert, he did qualify sixth with an elapsed time of 4.559 seconds at a speed of over 322 miles per hour, giving evidence of the 21-year old driver's ability to get the job done.
"This is one track that offers us great grip, and, if the weather is cool, we could see side-by-side 4.40s," said Lucas, whose career best time is 4.474 seconds. "We hope to be one of those cars. We have come close to winning three times this year and I hope the home track advantage that Joe Amato has at Maple Grove will benefit us. We've had a rough time of it lately with a couple of first-round losses, so any luck we can receive will certainly be a welcome change."
Qualifying for the Toyo Tires Nationals starts on Friday, Sept. 16 with sessions at 3:00 and 6:00 p.m. with Saturday's qualifying at 12:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. Sunday's eliminations start at 11 a.m., EDT, Sunday, Sept. 18.