LUCAS RACES TO FIFTH FINAL ROUND AT "THUNDER MOUNTAIN" DENVER (July 17) -- Morgan Lucas raced to his fifth Top Fuel runner-up finish against Tony Schumacher in Sunday's Mopar Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway, the first segment of a...
LUCAS RACES TO FIFTH FINAL ROUND AT "THUNDER MOUNTAIN"
DENVER (July 17) -- Morgan Lucas raced to his fifth Top Fuel runner-up finish against Tony Schumacher in Sunday's Mopar Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway, the first segment of a three consecutive races known as the "Western Swing."
After placing the Lucas Oil/Keystone Automotive Top Fuel dragster in the fourth starting position with a qualifying time of 4.634 seconds, 312.42 mph, his motivation entering final eliminations was intense, as he looked to repeat his efforts from the last race in St. Louis where he also was the runner-up and he accomplished that goal in style.
Morgan's opening round of eliminations found the Riverside, Calif. native setting low elapsed time of the round, defeating a competitive Scott Weis. Lucas reacted first and pushed his Lucas Oil dragster to the limit through the thin air running a time of 4.702 seconds, 314.68 mph to Weis' attempt of 4.938 seconds, 291.51 mph.
The quarterfinals set the stage of a major match up as Lucas raced against then points leader Doug Kalitta and won in a blaze of glory. Although his engine was letting go at the finish line resulting in a big display of raging fire, Lucas still had enough horsepower to hold off Kalitta eclipsing the clocks in 4.894 seconds, 294.31 mph to his opponent's time of 4.924 seconds, 298.80 mph.
His semi-final round was another battle of significant point contention, as he would face friend and adversary, David Grubnic. With Grubnic occupying the fourth place in the current standings, stopping his progression would let Lucas gain even more ground on him. Morgan recorded a time 4.712 seconds after a superb reaction time of .028 of a second running his best speed of the weekend of 316.90 mph to advance to his fifth final round of competition. Grubnic was also on his game, keeping the race close after he ran a time of 4.759 seconds, 313.29 mph.
In the final round, Morgan faced Tony Schumacher, who he had met in two previous final rounds ('04 Pomona2 and '05 Phoenix). This time he hoped to change things around but unfortunately, things didn't go his way.
After a delay due to a brief rain shower, the two drivers paired against each other to put on a splendid show of racing with Schumacher setting a new Bandimere Speedway speed record, running through the finish line in a time of 4.617 seconds, 331.45 mph to Morgan's elapsed time of 4.778 seconds, 309.91 mph.
"One of these days it's going to happen," said Lucas describing his mixed emotions. "We're playing the odds and the finals keep coming -- with that comes the points. Overall, I'm happy and very proud of our Lucas Oil team in reaching two final rounds in a row. We've been more rounds in the past two races than anybody else has. I'm not disappointed by any means by our performance this weekend and our guys have worked their butts off. I'm glad to be part of it with the five tracks that we've made it to the finals."
With the team, battling the mile-high atmospheric conditions that posed a difficult task already, co-crew chiefs, Jim Dupuy and John Stewart had their tuning assignment escalated to another realm when the bright sun was followed by overcast skies, and then a brief rain shower to change set up required having the engine perform at its maximum.
"Everything is going good," said co-crew chief and clutch specialist, John Stewart. "Up here on the mountain, it's tough. You're spinning the blower so hard, we fix one cylinder and then it moves it over to another. We're moving on to Seattle and hopefully we'll make it to another final round and see what we can do."
Jim Dupuy's tuning expertise paid dividends with performance and consistency and he congratulated his team on working so hard in the oppressive conditions.
"We're really happy with the team and we're working very hard to keep it going," said Dupuy. "It's really good to make it to the finals again. Sooner or later, we'll just win one. It's going to be a race to the end of the year in the points. I think we have a shot at getting to the top and that's our goal. As a team, we're going to get there."
Morgan Lucas now trails new POWERade Top Fuel points leader, Schumacher by 139 with 10 races remaining on the racing calendar.
The next second part of NHRA's notorious "Western Swing" will be the CarQuest Auto Parts Nationals at the Pacific Raceways in nearby Seattle with that event slated to run on July 22 -- 24.