LUCAS QUALIFIES NO. 8 AT THE TEXAS MOTORPLEX Earns His 50th Professional Career Start DALLAS (Sept. 23) -- Morgan Lucas will enter Sunday's O'Reilly Fall Nationals at the Texas Motorplex from the No. 8 starting position facilitating his 50th...
LUCAS QUALIFIES NO. 8 AT THE TEXAS MOTORPLEX
Earns His 50th Professional Career Start
DALLAS (Sept. 23) -- Morgan Lucas will enter Sunday's O'Reilly Fall Nationals at the Texas Motorplex from the No. 8 starting position facilitating his 50th professional start of his career. He will be racing Troy Buff in his first round of eliminations. This pair has never raced professionally which will make the match up rather interesting and it will be the 24th different driver, the 22-year old Lucas has raced in NHRA National event competition since he began in August of 2004.
"It's the first time in my Top Fuel career that I'm going to race somebody that I actually signed their license," said Lucas with a smile. "I signed Troy's NHRA license earlier this year in Chicago. He's a great guy and he certainly taught me a lot about driving an alcohol car when I first started. Troy's a clean racer and tomorrow is going to be a fun drag race. We will go up as buddies, but we'll race as adversaries. I'm glad to see him get the opportunity to be part of a good team with good people."
The debut of a new Brad Hadman dragster chassis gave the Lucas Oil crew headed by veteran co-crew chiefs; John Stewart and Ronnie Thompson, some difficulties in the beginning, but through their knowledge and experience plowed ahead and came up with a solution to run a 4.637 elapsed time along with a speed of 297.35 mph.
"I was so nervous going into that last session," a relieved Lucas said. "I've been fortunate to always qualify for every race and just the thought of not qualifying is something I don't want to think about. When that day does happen, I know I won't want to do it then. We have a new car going into the weekend and it's different from our previous one. It's a stressful deal to figure what it wants and I know that I haven't smiled much today mainly due to getting our Top Fuel car to up to par. We made the race and we didn't run well, we ran very well. I'm proud of our guys and they kept their heads in it and got it down the track."
His second part of double-duty driving gave Morgan Lucas an opportunity to place his Lucas Oil A-Fuel dragster safely in the competitive field with a time of 5.488 seconds, 260.01 mph earning the No. 7 position after leading pack in Friday's qualifying.
In his first round of eliminations of that Sportsman category on Saturday, he defeated Lee Callaway in a close side-by-side race advancing him to quarterfinals of the division where he will have lane choice in the O'Reilly Fall Nationals over Darrell Hitchman when the Alcohol dragsters continue their competition. Lucas reacted first on Saturday's first round and held the lead all the way down the quarter-mile to win with a run of 5.370 seconds, 262.79 mph to Callaway's close time of 5.394 seconds, 253.14 mph.
"We should have qualified better with our Alcohol car, but we wanted to try something different in qualifying," said Lucas. "We wanted to make one change that we felt was a big one and the car didn't like it. So, we put it back the way we had it and let the better air (after a rain shower) assist us just as everyone else. The air was better, the track improved, and everyone's cars ran better just like ours. Top Alcohol dragster -- it's a beautiful class and I'm glad to be part of it all. I'm having fun and right now, I'm going back to work."
Lucas' Funny Car teammate, Tony Bartone improved on his earlier time of the weekend and qualified in the No. 12 position with a time of 4.873 seconds, 306.46 mph in his Jim Dunn-owned Lucas Oil Chevrolet Monte Carlo. In his opening round racing stanza, he will face Eric Medlen, the No. 5 qualifier.
ESPN2 will air a three-hour program of the O'Reilly Fall Nationals starting at 7 p.m. EDT. on Sunday.