DALLAS (Oct. 13) -- For the majority of the NHRA season, Top Fuel driver Don Lampus has been riding high in his ExpressAutoParts.com dragster, qualifying well enough and winning enough elimination rounds to maintain a position in the Winston Top 10.
DALLAS (Oct. 13) -- For the majority of the NHRA season, Top Fuel driver Don Lampus has been riding high in his ExpressAutoParts.com dragster, qualifying well enough and winning enough elimination rounds to maintain a position in the Winston Top 10. But for the past two events, as the team has adjusted to new crew chief Wayne Dupuy and his tune-up, the Rookie of the Year candidate has exited the race in the first round, a trend he hopes to reverse next weekend at the 15th annual O'Reilly Fall Nationals.
Lampus, a 36-year-old from Dallas who is the reigning IHRA champion, admits to high levels of stress over the past few weeks as he's pushed himself and his team to quickly adapt to Dupuy's way of doing things. Now, after finally having a weekend off between races, he's arrived at a different plan of attack.
"I'm taking on a whole new attitude," said Lampus. "When I first started racing it was for the love of the sport. I was out here to have some fun and to enjoy every minute of the entire experience. Lately, I've been so worried about the points standings, getting a red light in Memphis, the importance of winning rounds every weekend, and what the other drivers were doing. It's drained me and I'm sure it's been hard on the team.
"The whole crew is here now and we got together and decided to go back to the way it was when we won the championship last year. We were all having a good time and loving life. Everyone knew what their job was and did it with a smile on their face. We didn't get down when something bad happened, we just moved on because we knew it was all a part of racing. When we were like that, winning rounds came naturally.
"I have the best crew in the sport, the best crew chief, and all the right pieces to win. It's time to just let it happen. I'm glad we're here in Dallas because having all my friends, family, and co-workers out at the track will remind me to have a good time."
With just three races left on the 2000 schedule, Lampus hopes the team's attitude adjustment will help lift them to new heights. Mathematically, Lampus could finish the season as high as seventh place in the standings. He could also fall as far as 12th place.
"Our goals all year have been to gain as much knowledge as possible, finish in the Top 10, and be considered for Rookie of the Year," Lampus said. "Nothing has changed."
Same-day television coverage of the 15th annual O'Reilly Fall Nationals will be divided into two shows on ESPN2. The first round of eliminations will air from 1:30-3:30 p.m. (ET), Sunday, Oct. 22. The remainder of the elimination rounds will be broadcast later that day from 6-8 p.m., with a rebroadcast at 1-3 a.m. (ET) Monday morning.
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