Houston: Frantic schedule to Lampus' liking

HOUSTON (Oct. 24) -- A rain-out at last weekend's stop in Dallas has turned the final 20 days of the 2000 NHRA Drag Racing season into a frenzied three-race sprint to the finish. The tour visits Houston this weekend, then returns to Dallas Nov....

HOUSTON (Oct. 24) -- A rain-out at last weekend's stop in Dallas has turned the final 20 days of the 2000 NHRA Drag Racing season into a frenzied three-race sprint to the finish. The tour visits Houston this weekend, then returns to Dallas Nov. 3-4 to make up for the postponed race before blazing into Pomona, Calif., Nov. 9-12 for the season finale.

Top Fuel driver Don Lampus of the upstart ExpressAutoParts.com race team says the breakneck pace could provide the perfect scenario for his young team. The group is trying to secure their season-long goals of finishing in the Top 10 of the Winston championship points standings and earning Lampus NHRA Rookie of the Year honors.

"I can tell you right now that every crew out there will be flat-out exhausted by the time we get to Pomona," Lampus said. "And we're no exception. But having three races in just a little over two weeks will force us all to focus entirely on racing. The pressure will be intense but my guys have shown me several times that they shine the brightest when the heat is on. This final stretch is the perfect chance for us to showcase our race team."

Lampus, a 36-year-old from Dallas, found success earlier this season at Houston Raceway Park, the site of this weekend's fourth annual Matco Tools SuperNationals. It was at the notoriously fast track that he notched his first of two elimination-round wins over five-time Winston champion Joe Amato. Overall, Lampus has won six elimination-round races this season and has been a part of the Top 10 after 15 of 20 events.

As a finalist for Rookie of the Year honors, Lampus knows that a strong showing in Houston could be the impetus for locking down the coveted award. The reigning IHRA Top Fuel world champion and former off-road world titleholder has proven in the past that he has what it takes to win it all. Now he needs to show the rest of the NHRA.

"It would be awesome for everyone on this team if we could finish strong," Lampus said. "I'd love to go some rounds and put ourselves in a position to win one of these final three races. It would be such a perfect ending to a fantastic rookie season. I'm fired up about the schedule because I tend to get in a zone when I'm racing and the fact that we don't have any off days before the end of the season will help me tremendously. I sometimes say that I wish we could race every weekend -- now I'm getting my wish."

Same-day television coverage of the fourth annual Matco Tools SuperNationals will be divided into two shows on ESPN2. The first round of eliminations will air from 2:30-4 p.m. (ET), Sunday, Oct. 29. The remainder of the elimination rounds will be broadcast later that day from 7:30-10 p.m., with a rebroadcast at 1-3 p.m. (ET) Monday afternoon. k

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Series NHRA
Drivers Joe Amato , Don Lampus