Denver: Team Lampus ready to climb the mountain

DENVER (July 11) – NHRA Rookie of the Year candidate Don Lampus brings his well-rested, championship-winning Top Fuel operation to Bandimere Speedway this Friday through Sunday for the 22nd annual Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals. Lampus, the...

DENVER (July 11) – NHRA Rookie of the Year candidate Don Lampus brings his well-rested, championship-winning Top Fuel operation to Bandimere Speedway this Friday through Sunday for the 22nd annual Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals.

Lampus, the reigning 1999 IHRA Top Fuel champion, elected to skip last weekend’s non-points event in Bristol, Tenn., instead allowing his ExpressAutoParts.com crew a few extra days off to spend with their families. Now he hopes his refreshed troops will be in top form when they try to conquer Thunder Mountain.

“I talked to all the guys over the weekend and everyone is pumped up, rested, and ready to go,” said Lampus, a 35-year-old from Dallas. “We have more than doubled our schedule from last year and I didn’t want to wear everybody down, myself included. On the other hand, I think there’s something in all of us that wants to race every weekend because we’re having so much fun. But down the stretch this break will pay dividends.

“I’m excited about this race. It’ll be a bit nerve-wracking Friday when I climb in the cockpit of my ExpressAutoParts.com dragster for the first time in three weeks, but one 300-mph pass should get us back to form. I’ve never raced in Denver but our crew chief Mike McLaughlin has competed there before so he has a good, basic high-altitude tune-up that we can work from. The new 90-percent nitro fuel rule will make it a little tougher on everyone but I think we’ll all be okay after a pass or two.”

An early report from Bandimere Speedway, where it’s been very hot this summer, is that corrected altitude readings are hovering in the 9,000 to 10,000-feet range. That reading is more than two and a half times higher than any race in the first half of the season.

“It’ll be a different mental psyche for us to go out and try to run a 4.7-second pass and then be happy with it,” Lampus said. “But that’s what we’re hoping to run. It’s a dangerous dance you have with the tune-up up there because the only way to make power at that altitude is by increasing compression and adding blower. On the other hand, you can’t rev it up too much or you’ll blow all your stuff up.

“The good news is every team is dealing with the same conditions. We had one of our best qualifying efforts of the year at the last national event in St. Louis, running a pair of 4.6-second laps and qualifying in the top half of the field. Even though the elapsed times won’t be the same in Denver, I expect us to perform at the same level.”

Several hours of this race will be broadcast on ESPN2. Qualifying highlights will air from 10 p.m.-midnight, Saturday, with a repeat from 4:30-6:30 a.m. (ET) Sunday morning. The first round of eliminations will be shown from 4:30-5:30 p.m. (ET) Sunday with the final three rounds shown later that evening from 11:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m. (ET). A repeat of the elimination rounds will air from 4-6 a.m. (ET) Tuesday.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Mike McLaughlin , Don Lampus