John Stewart joins Lucas Oil Racing

JOHN STEWART JOINS LUCAS OIL RACING Veteran Crew Chief Brings His Racing Prowess to Amato Racing ST. LOUIS (June 22) -- As part of the recent crew realignment at Joe Amato Racing after the Englishtown event, five-time Top Fuel champion ...

Veteran Crew Chief Brings His Racing Prowess to Amato Racing

ST. LOUIS (June 22) -- As part of the recent crew realignment at Joe Amato Racing after the Englishtown event, five-time Top Fuel champion and International Motorsports Hall-of-Fame car owner, Joe Amato is pleased to announce the hiring of talented and veteran crew chief, John Stewart to take over the tuning responsibilities of the Lucas Oil Top Fuel dragster driven by second-year driver, Morgan Lucas.

"They've got a good group of guys over there with Joe as the owner, Forrest Lucas as the sponsor and Morgan as the driver," said Stewart, who at the age of 16 was the youngest ever Top Fuel driver to receive his NHRA competitors license. "Amato Racing is providing me with a great budget and we'll go from there and try to build some consistency. My main goal is to go have some fun and win races. If you're consistent, the wins will come.

"The St. Louis track has always been marginal and we're lucky they moved it to a night race. It's still going to be warm for the first two runs on Sunday and whoever can get their car to make four consistent passes is going to end up as the winner of the race. You don't have to be the fastest car; it's just a matter of being consistent. That's the secret to success in St. Louis."

One of the strongest points that Stewart brings to the team is his ability to understand the dynamics of the intricate clutch system on the 8,000-horsepower dragster. It's what he feels are the fundamentals of drag racing, and a key to expediting the Amato team's return to the forefront.

"I've always been a clutch guy. The engine is an engine and they all make plenty of horsepower, but it's getting that power to the rear tires and that's in the clutch. That's when the bad racetracks come in good."

Stewart grew up in the Sacramento, Calif., area. He drove Top Fuel cars in the early 70's and in 1973 earned a spot in the 16-member Cragar 5-second Club.

In addition to a stop at Darrell Gwynn Racing, Stewart's resume in a long career includes positions with Connie Kalitta, Shirley Muldowney, Cruz Pedregon, Shelly Anderson, Tim Wilkerson, Dean Skuza, Jim Epler, Bob Vandergriff, Don Prudhomme's Snake Racing and the Carrier Boyz Top Fuel team.

"I'm looking forward to this new experience," said Morgan Lucas, who has competed in 19 NHRA professional races. "It's the start of a new racing chapter in my career. The entire crew is upbeat about John coming on board our Lucas Oil racing team.

"We're excited about going to St. Louis and seeing what our car can do. In talking with Stewart, we discussed our game plan for the race. I've known John Stewart for a long time. He has always been a really good friend and he's a standup kind of guy that does what he says. We can't help but look forward to the future and I think we can develop something good."

The Gateway International Speedway is noted for hot, slick racing conditions and with the weatherman calling for mid-90-degree temperatures again this year; it's reassuring to Lucas to know the race will finish under lights after the 4:30 p.m. start because the track surface will be marginal at best.

"I've heard both. It gets really hot there and we all know St. Louis in late June is one of them. Last year, everyone's numbers were in the competitive 4.50s. Moreover, I don't see why we can't do the same thing. Stewart is a sharp guy and we know the plan is to get the car down the track with a successful run. The car makes a lot of power as it is, but we need to start thinking about our own points situation and the only way to do that is to win rounds. We can't win rounds unless we make it down the track. It's going to take a lot of hard work on our part to make that happen. We just need to keep our heads into it and make sure everything is right on the car. We have the potential to overcome the deficit and that's what we have to do to have any chance of being No.1 by November."

Qualifying for the Sears-Craftsman Nationals starts on Friday, June 24 with sessions at 6 and 9 p.m. with Saturday's qualifying at the same time on the schedule as Friday. Sunday's eliminations start at 4:30 p.m., CDT Sunday, June 26

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Shirley Muldowney , Jim Epler , Dean Skuza , Joe Amato , Don Prudhomme , Tim Wilkerson , Darrell Gwynn , Morgan Lucas , Connie Kalitta , Shelly Anderson