sears Point: Lampus eyes birdie, settles for par

SONOMA, Calif. (August 6) – Rookie of the Year candidate Don Lampus won’t be spraying bubbly on anyone in the Autolite Nationals winner’s circle this weekend, but he and his ExpressAutoParts.com Top Fuel drag racing team deserve a toast...

SONOMA, Calif. (August 6) – Rookie of the Year candidate Don Lampus won’t be spraying bubbly on anyone in the Autolite Nationals winner’s circle this weekend, but he and his ExpressAutoParts.com Top Fuel drag racing team deserve a toast anyway for their impressive outing in America’s wine country.

After qualifying in the top half of the field for the fourth time this year, Lampus recorded his sixth elimination-round victory with a win over longtime contender Cory McClenathan. He then lost traction during his quarterfinal race with Doug Kalitta and could only watch as Kalitta streaked away for the win.

“We came into this race saying we wanted to qualify in the top half of the field and win at least one round on Sunday,” said Lampus, a 36-year-old from Dallas. “That’s exactly what we did. I guess if we were golfing you’d say we hit par. The nice thing about that is we were shooting for a birdie in the quarterfinals and we almost drained the putt.

“The ExpressAutoParts.com car, just like most of the other cars out there today, lost traction during both runs. I was able to pedal (the accelerator) in Round 1 and the car regained traction. But when I did that in Round 2 all I saw was Kalitta streaking away. He made a clean run and that was the difference.”

The scoreboard showed Lampus winning his first-round race with a 4.875-second lap at 295.79 mph in front of McClenathan’s 4.889-second, 304.46-mph pass. In the quarterfinals, Lampus has a tremendous launch, carding a .445-second reaction time, but eventually coasted through in 6.271 seconds behind Kalitta’s 4.713-second lap.

Lampus maintained his position in the top 10 and actually closed the gap on the two teams ahead of him in the standings. At the same time, he added a few more points of cushion to his nearest pursuer. As it stands now, Lampus is in 10th place with 568 points, three points behind Doug Herbert and 20 points behind Bob Vandergriff. Dave Grubnic trails Lampus by 30 points. (Note: One round win equals 20 points.)

“It’s very important to the guys on this team that we keep this ExpressAutoParts.com dragster in the Winston top 10,” said Lampus, the reigning IHRA Top Fuel champion. “It’s a matter of pride for us. The nice thing is that we really tightened things up in the standings this weekend. We could jump up to eighth place very quickly and a can tell you that will be one of the big goals for us as we head into Brainerd.”

The elimination rounds of the 13th annual Autolite Nationals will be broadcast from 9:30p.m. - Midnight (ET)/6:30-9 p.m. (PT) today on ESPN2. A rebroadcast will occur from 1-3 p.m. (ET)/10 a.m. - noon (PT) on Wednesday.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Kalitta , Cory McClenathan , Don Lampus , Bob Vandergriff