RICHMOND, Va. (April 20) -- As the 24-race Winston Championship Drag Racing circuit makes its way to the history-laden state of Virginia April 28-30 for the sixth annual Moto1.net Nationals, Rookie of the Year candidate Don Lampus Jr. is hoping to...
RICHMOND, Va. (April 20) -- As the 24-race Winston Championship Drag Racing circuit makes its way to the history-laden state of Virginia April 28-30 for the sixth annual Moto1.net Nationals, Rookie of the Year candidate Don Lampus Jr. is hoping to make a little history of his own in his competitive ExpressAutoParts.com Top Fuel Dragster.
Lampus has been a picture of consistency in the first five events of 2000, successfully qualifying for every race and winning a pair of elimination-round battles on Race Day. His efforts have lifted the 35-year-old from Dallas into the top 10 of the Winston championship points standings where he currently resides in ninth place.
His success is surprising to some observers of the sport, who generally expect first-year teams to experience growing pains along the way. At the same time, after having won the 1999 IHRA Top Fuel championship as well as the S.C.O.R.E. off-road title a few years before that, Lampus and his race team seem to think they're right where they belong.
"Things are progressing nicely for us," Lampus said. "I can't complain. On one hand it's a little strange that we haven't won a race yet because by this time last year on the IHRA tour, we had already won three events in a row. But this is a different league and we knew coming in that progress would have to be made in measured steps.
"The ExpressAutoParts.com car is running so well and Mike (McLaughlin, crew chief) and the rest of the guys have made this thing so consistent that I know big-time success for this team is just around the corner."
Surprisingly, McLaughlin and crew made the transition from a four-disc clutch system to a new-age five-disc assembly two races ago and haven't missed a beat, with Lampus knocking off five-time world champion Joe Amato at the last stop in Houston. The new clutch has caused fits for many of the top contenders, but not for Team Lampus.
"What can I say?" Lampus said. "Mike's amazing. Most people would have tested extensively after making a major change like that but Mike felt we could handle it on the fly. It might have clipped us a little in Vegas but by the time we got to Houston we were already in a better place with the tune-up.
"Our goals for Richmond is to get the car to run consistent 4.6-second laps, qualify in the top half of the field, race at least one or two rounds on Sunday, and maintain our top 10 ranking. Making a little history of our own with a career-best speed or elapsed time would be nice also. They say Virginia can be an awesome track, I'd like to make it our favorite."
The elimination rounds of the sixth annual Moto1.net Nationals presented by Chevrolet will be broadcast from 4:30-6 p.m. (ET and PT) Sunday, April 30 on TNN.