POMONA, Calif. - Although Morgan Lucas' season ended in a cloud of smoke rather than a rain of confetti at the NHRA Finals, the driver is still proud of what the GEICO/Lucas Oil Top Fuel dragster accomplished this year.
"I'm proud of the level the team reached in 2012," Lucas said. "With Aaron Brooks coming on in his first season as our crew chief, we achieved a lot of the goals we set at the beginning of the season.
Lucas ends the season in seventh place in the final Top Fuel standings. He had wins in Gainesville, Houston and Brainerd and was top qualifier four times, a career-best mark.
"We started out this season like gangbusters," Lucas said. "We learned a lot over the course of the year. We learned that our team car, the ProtectTheHarvest.com car, maybe needs to be a little more aggressive at times and our GEICO car needs to be more consistent.
"With the way we've performed this year, we've got a chance at meeting in the middle and doing a lot of damage in the years to come."
On Sunday in the first round against Mike Salinas, the GEICO car suffered the same malady that's been haunting it the past few races. Lucas was off the line and looking good through the first 60 feet but shortly after that first timing marker, the GEICO rail's tires started to shake and smoke.
"Today was a disappointment, for sure," Lucas said. "But that Salinas group over there is a great group and there's no shame losing to them. My teammate Brandon (Brandon) went a long way today too, so that took a lot of the sting out of the loss, too."
Salinas stumbled a little but was able to collect the car and finish in 3.861 seconds at 304.74 mph. Lucas crossed the line in 4.915 seconds at 164.93 mph.
"We need to just stay on our game," Lucas said. "We need to make these offseason test sessions count. We have to be objective in our analysis of the season and the two cars have to learn from each other."
Lucas is looking forward for an eventful offseason where he'll marry his longtime girlfriend Katie Pallone, before gearing up for a more successful 2013.
"It's been an amazing year on a lot of fronts," Lucas said. "There's a lot of good things yet to come but we won't mean we're going to stop working hard so we can contend for the title in the GEICO car next year."