Houston Don Lampus powers back

HOUSTON (April 16) -- NHRA Rookie of the Year candidate Don Lampus Jr. set two goals for his ExpressAutoParts.com Top Fuel team when they arrived at Houston Raceway Park for the 13th annual O'Reilly Nationals -- get back in the top 10 of the ...

HOUSTON (April 16) -- NHRA Rookie of the Year candidate Don Lampus Jr. set two goals for his ExpressAutoParts.com Top Fuel team when they arrived at Houston Raceway Park for the 13th annual O'Reilly Nationals -- get back in the top 10 of the Winston championship points standings and win at least one round on Sunday. Now, as the sun sets in his adopted home state, Lampus can proudly say "Mission accomplished."

"We did everything we set out to do," said Lampus, the reigning IHRA Top Fuel champion who lives in Dallas. "We reached the quarterfinals and moved up two spots in the points to the ninth position. The fact we set our career best speed is a bonus."

Lampus reset his personal record for top speed when he reached 314.02 mph during a 4.719-second pass in Round 1. The lap was quick enough and fast enough to earn him an elimination round win over five-time Winston champ and Top Fuel legend Joe Amato, who hazed his tires just before mid-track and could only muster a slowing 5.977-second pass at 152.07 mph in his Keystone machine.

"I had a smile on my face from about the 600-foot mark to the end of the track," Lampus said, "because I couldn't see Amato anywhere. In fact I never saw him at all the whole lap. I left before him at the tree (.502 reaction time to Amato's .572-second start) and he never came into view. I like races like that.

"The pass was straight and perfect all the way down. It launched hard and the tires hooked up perfectly to the track. No tire spin at all. It's a credit to Mike (McLaughlin, crew chief) and the rest of the ExpressAutoParts.com crew for matching this car to the conditions. They made it easy on me."

Lampus ran another 4.719-second lap in Round 2 against eventual race winner Larry Dixon. But Dixon's 4.669-second blast at 313.07 mph was enough to turn on the win light in his lane. Still, Lampus was pleased with his car's performance.

"To run two 4.71s in the heat of the day after qualifying with a 4.79 is something to be proud of," Lampus said. "Sure we would've liked to have run in the 4.6s but the key for us right now is consistency. Dixon didn't blow us away. He won by 15 feet. Next time it might be us winning by 15 feet. You have to be in the fight to win the fight and we were right there with the best of them today. And this is only the second race with the new clutch assembly. We'll only get better and better."

Lampus and the rest of the NHRA professionals will have a weekend off before travelling to Richmond, Va. for the next national event April 27-30.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Joe Amato , Don Lampus