DALLAS (Nov. 4) -- ExpressAutoParts.com Top Fuel pilot Don Lampus rode a home track advantage to a quarterfinal finish Saturday at the Texas Motorplex as the rain-plagued 15th annual O'Reilly Fall Nationals mercifully came to an end. The event, ...
DALLAS (Nov. 4) -- ExpressAutoParts.com Top Fuel pilot Don Lampus rode a home track advantage to a quarterfinal finish Saturday at the Texas Motorplex as the rain-plagued 15th annual O'Reilly Fall Nationals mercifully came to an end. The event, which was delayed two weeks by rain only to have the qualifying sessions cancelled outright by more rain yesterday, helped Lampus solidify his ranking in the Winston Top 10.
"The fact we got back in the Top 10 last weekend and stayed there through this crazy race is awesome," Lampus said. "We've made no secret of our goals and one of the main ones is to finish the year in the Top 10. It's not over yet and Dave Grubnic is less than a round behind us, but for now we've got the prestige of the position."
After canceling the qualifying sessions for the first time in NHRA history, officials elected to set the elimination fields at this race according to each driver's position in the Winston championship points standings. As such, Lampus was awarded the No. 10 spot and was then moved up one position on the ladder due to No. 2 points earner Tony Schumacher's absence. That meant he opened Race Day opposite No. 8 qualifier Doug Herbert, who had lane choice on the completely green racetrack.
Adding to the drama was the fact that Lampus and Herbert opened the day's racing as the first pair of pros down the track. The lack of information on the track put the race in the hands of the crew chiefs and ExpressAutoParts.com head wrench Wayne Dupuy and his calculated tune-up earned Lampus a thrilling 4.828-second, 302.01-mph win over Herbert, who logged a close 4.836-second pass at 298.27 mph.
"I give total credit to Wayne and the guys on the ExpressAutoParts.com crew," said Lampus, an NHRA rookie. "My team's experience and racing background definitely helped us get down the track and as it turns out that win helped us stay in the Top 10."
The win also gave Lampus lane choice in Round 2 over three-time Winston champion Gary Scelzi. Scelzi clinched the 2000 title in the opening round during a tire-smoking 11-second pass. Things were looking promising for Lampus until his engine broke a lifter during the warm-up for Round 2, prompting a last second engine change.
"There was some prep work that didn't get done and the engine was very hot when we got up to the line," Lampus said. "Normally, you have 20 minutes to cool down and this time we had about three. We gave it our best shot but the car broke loose a couple of times and no matter what I did I couldn't keep the power on the track. Scelzi ran a 4.80 and all I could do was watch. To be honest, I'm surprised we made it to the line in time. Swapping out two motors in 75 minutes proved to me we have the best crew out here."