HOUSTON (April 1) -- Morgan Lucas might have been a bit nervous at his chances of making the NHRA Top Fuel field at the O'Reilly Springnationals at Houston Raceway Park after three unsuccessful tries to make it into the highly competitive ...
HOUSTON (April 1) -- Morgan Lucas might have been a bit nervous at his chances of making the NHRA Top Fuel field at the O'Reilly Springnationals at Houston Raceway Park after three unsuccessful tries to make it into the highly competitive arena.
However, what almost turned into a cruel April's Fool joke for the Lucas Oil team the co-crew chiefs of John Stewart and Ronnie Thompson ended up having the last laugh after recording a qualifying time of 4.627 seconds, 321.35 mph. That element of performance placed the youngest driver on the NHRA tour into the 13th position on the 16-car roster.
"I'm just so happy for my Dad (Forrest) and Mom (Charlotte, whose birthday was on Friday)," said a relieved Lucas. "My Lucas Oil crew went through the regular motions of setting up the car and I'm happy with the results, for sure. That made a big difference in the points standings and everything else that goes along with making the race. It was huge for us just to get in.
"It's been a tough weekend so far. The air and track have been all over the place with plenty of humidity making conditions difficult to negotiate. There were a lot of cars that got in the lineup on their last pass like ours and some like (Gary) Scelzi didn't make it. It just goes to show that everyone is struggling a little bit at this race. This is the first really hot weather race we've had with this new tire. Our guys pulled through and we figured a way to make it work. It's not running quite as quick as I would like it to run. We're in and I'm not asking for anything else."
Lucas will meet his major nemesis in the opening round, defending NHRA POWERade Top Fuel champion, Tony Schumacher. Out of the 11 times this duo have been in opposite racing lanes, Lucas took the first win and the remaining 10 match ups have gone in Tony's favor. Lucas is hoping the odds of receiving his second win over the champ will finally shape his destiny in eliminations.
"He hasn't exactly been on a hot streak lately," said the younger Lucas. "I do feel pretty confident about tomorrow because we did get down the track today. I'm hoping we can find a half a tenth (of a second) more in this car. I've got the right team to do that and we'll be just fine."
Another person heavily involved in the team's progress is car owner, president, and CEO of Lucas Oil Products, Forrest Lucas. He like everyone else carrying the Lucas Oil logo on his or her apparel was reassured when the scoreboard lit up allowing his son to enter the race on Sunday with his swift qualifying time.
"Well, we got in the show," said a smiling Forrest Lucas. "That's all you can ask for. We should have gotten in the first qualifying session only to find out how fast we couldn't go. Then we found out how fast we could go on our next pass, but at least we got in. That's all that matters."