Heat keeps Team Lucas cars in check at Heartland Park Topeka TOPEKA, Kan. (May 30) -- A hot and slick racetrack baking under nonstop Kansas sunshine kept the quickest and fastest racecars in the world from posting gigantic numbers Saturday at ...
Heat keeps Team Lucas cars in check at Heartland Park Topeka
TOPEKA, Kan. (May 30) -- A hot and slick racetrack baking under nonstop Kansas sunshine kept the quickest and fastest racecars in the world from posting gigantic numbers Saturday at Heartland Park Topeka. Instead, drivers like teammates Morgan Lucas and Shawn Langdon used the day to perfect their race day tune-ups as the 21st annual O'Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals turn to sudden-death eliminations.
"A day like this, you get up and look at the conditions and you know you're not going to be able to improve on the one nighttime run we get on Friday evening, so you basically go into test mode," said Lucas, a winner earlier this season in Atlanta. "We tried some things with our GEICO Powersports/Lucas Oil dragster that our crew chief, Jimmy Walsh, wanted to try and some of the things worked and some didn't.
"That's just the way it goes when you're testing, and since we're limited in the number of days we can test by the NHRA, we just about have to test during a race itself. It's not the best case scenario, but it's reality."
In all, only two Top Fuel cars managed to make it all the way down the track Saturday, with both men posting sluggish 4.01-second passes. Everyone else that attempted runs shut-off early, including Lucas and Langdon.
"There's no point hurting your equipment by pushing things to the limit when you're not actually racing for round wins," said Langdon, a leading candidate for rookie of the year in his Lucas Oil/Dixie Choppers dragster. "We pretty much figured we'd stay in the top half of the field, which gives us both lane choice, so the first two steps of a successful weekend have been accomplished."
In the end, Lucas earned the No. 7 position with a 3.909 at 301.40 mph, while Langdon stayed eighth with a 3.952 at 302.62 mph. According to the ladder, Lucas will open eliminations against veteran Cory McClenathan (4.008 at 290.26 mph) with Langdon squaring off against part-time Top Fuel racer Terry Haddock (3.961 at 296.18 mph).
"Everyone is tough when you pull up to the line," Lucas said. "I remember getting Cory's autograph when I was a little kid. Now I get to race him on the weekends. It's very cool. Cory's a great driver and we'll need to be ready for him."
Likewise, Langdon is weary of Haddock. "I'm still the new guy out here so just about everyone I race has way more experience," he said. "I just stay within what I can do with my car and my team and try my best not to make any mistakes. This season has been so much fun. The only thing missing is a win."
Entering this event, Lucas is fifth in the points and Langdon is seventh. Eliminations begin at 11 a.m. Sunday.