DENVER (July 16) â€“ The rookie campaign of NHRA Top Fuel driver Don Lampus just keeps getting better and better every race. The 35-year-old from Dallas reached new heights this weekend at the 22nd annual Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals, driving...
DENVER (July 16) – The rookie campaign of NHRA Top Fuel driver Don Lampus just keeps getting better and better every race. The 35-year-old from Dallas reached new heights this weekend at the 22nd annual Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals, driving his powerful ExpressAutoParts.com Top Fuel Dragster to the first semifinal round of his career.
Lampus, the reigning IHRA champion who won four races in six final rounds last year on the rival circuit, had never advanced past the second round in NHRA competition until today. But his team proved to be extremely competitive on “Thunder Mountain,” racking up wins over Dave Grubnic and Jim Cavalieri before being edged out by Winston champ Tony Schumacher in the semis, 4.76 to 4.95.
“The list of people that reach the semis is pretty distinguished,” Lampus said. “I can’t tell you how excited I was to be one of them. It’s an amazing feeling, almost surreal. It’s why we race. The feeling you get when you win a round at this level is like nothing else.
“What can I say about this ExpressAutoParts.com team? They were awesome all weekend, especially today between rounds when the pressure was on. The car was always ready to go with room to spare. This was a huge race for all of us.”
Today’s pair of elimination-round wins helped Lampus advance to ninth place in the Winston championship points standings. He now leads his nearest pursuer by 25 points and is just 21 points out of eighth place.
Lampus is rapidly becoming a true contender on the NHRA circuit. He has now qualified in the top half of the elimination field at the last two events and has run well enough over the course of the season to be a part of the Winston Top 10 after 10 of 13 events. Today, Lampus ran the fastest lap of the weekend when he reached 312.35 mph in the opening session. His 4.778-second win over Grubnic also made him the second quickest driver of the day, behind Schumacher.
“That first round win over Grubnic was big,” Lampus said. “He was ahead of us in the points at the time and we all knew that was one we really needed to win. Everything came together that round and we had a killer lap. It really set the tone for the rest of the day.
“I believe weekend’s like this will become the norm for this team. We are getting stronger every race. I’m already excited about Seattle. It can’t get here fast enough.”
The elimination rounds of the Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals will air tonight on ESPN2 from 11:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m. (ET). A repeat will air from 4-6 a.m. (ET) Tuesday.