Lucas leads Team NHRA in Lake Placid, Coughlin close behind LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (Jan. 3) -- Top Fuel driver Morgan Lucas looked exceptionally racy on the U.S. Olympic Bobsled course on Mount Van Hoevenberg Saturday, sledding to the No. 3...
Lucas leads Team NHRA in Lake Placid, Coughlin close behind
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (Jan. 3) -- Top Fuel driver Morgan Lucas looked exceptionally racy on the U.S. Olympic Bobsled course on Mount Van Hoevenberg Saturday, sledding to the No. 3 qualifying position at the fourth annual Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge charity race to lead the four-man group representing NHRA Championship Drag Racing.
Making six runs from the Turn 3 starting position, Lucas posted a 52.40 in his Lucas Oil bobsled in the final session of the day, which event organizers used to set the starting field for Sunday's action. He was followed closely by No. 4 qualifier Jeg Coughlin Jr., who carded a 52.74 in the JEGS.com sled. Fellow team members J.R. Todd (53.14) and Bob Vandergriff (53.22) finished in 10th and 11th place, respectively.
"Every time I go down the track I feel like I'm getting better with the way I drive the sled," Lucas said. "I'm getting to the point where I can visualize the whole course so I'm probably a lot smoother. Before it was a case of reacting to what you see coming at you. Now I'm thinking about where I want to be going into and out of the turns."
The No. 1 qualifying slot went to NASCAR pro Todd Bodine, who ran a 52.20. Prerace favorite Boris Said, who has won every Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge to date, ended up a distant ninth with a 52.87.
"They've worked hard on making all these sleds equal," said Vandergriff, who raced to the semifinal round of last year's NASCAR vs. NHRA race before losing to Lucas. "I've just been a little slow on the bottom half of the course. My incremental times at the top are good but I start slowing down at the bottom. Hopefully, we can pick it up tomorrow."
All of the racers in attendance got a special treat when several members of the USA Bobsled and Skelton teams made runs from the top of the hill. It was serious business as the final two spots on both the men's and women's bobsled teams were filled. The World Championships will be held in Lake Placid next month.
"Watching them prepare themselves and their sleds for each run was impressive," Coughlin said. "You'll actually see them find a quiet moment before each run where the driver mentally goes through an entire run in their head. It reminded me of what we do in drag racing before we make a run.
"They treat their sleds like gold. The deals they attach to each runner just to protect them cost $8,000 each. They only take them off a few minutes before it's time to go. Then they polish them up until they're perfect and take off. It's wild."
The Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge was created by NASCAR veteran Bodine to raise money for the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project, which designs and makes bobsleds exclusively for Team USA. Prior to Bodine's involvement, U.S. bobsledders competed in used bobsleds from other countries. Now they routinely win medals at the highest level of the sport, including the Olympic Games and World Bobsled Championships.
There will be two races Sunday. One pits all the drivers against the clock, while the second sets an eight-man ladder with the NHRA pros on one side and the NASCAR drivers on the other.
Saturday's qualifying order
1. 52.20 -- Todd Bodine
2. 52.21 -- Larry Gunselman
3. 52.40 -- Morgan Lucas
4. 52.74 -- Jeg Coughlin Jr.
5. 52.74 -- Phillip Morris
6. 52.76 -- Eric Curran
7. 52.78 -- Joey Logano
8. 52.82 -- Brian Loftin
9. 52.87 -- Boris Said
10. 53.14 -- J.R. Todd
11. 53.22 -- Bob Vandergriff
12. 53.30 -- Danny Bagwell
-credit: team jegs