Las Vegas II: Don Lampus final qualifying report

Latecomer Lampus lights up Las Vegas LAS VEGAS (Oct. 27) -- Top Fuel driver Don Lampus immediately made his presence felt at the inaugural ACDelco NHRA Las Vegas Nationals by blasting to a top-half qualifying berth in his first trip down the ...

Latecomer Lampus lights up Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS (Oct. 27) -- Top Fuel driver Don Lampus immediately made his presence felt at the inaugural ACDelco NHRA Las Vegas Nationals by blasting to a top-half qualifying berth in his first trip down the Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The 37-year-old from Dallas had to miss yesterday's two qualifying sessions due to prior commitments but immediately made up for the shortfall with a competitive 4.643-second pass at 316.75 mph, which placed him seventh on the elimination ladder.

"This team we've assembled is amazing," Lampus said. "My crew chiefs, Wayne Dupuy and Chris Cunningham, and the rest of the guys had this track totally figured out before I ever got here. They put a fantastic tune-up in there and it carried me straight down the track. That's pretty awesome for this group. I'm very proud of everyone.

"It actually felt a little soft. It's been awhile since I've run at altitude I guess and I just wasn't used to it. I thought it was about a 4.80 or so but when I made the turn off my guys were screaming 4.64. We're very pleased."

Lampus will forego the final session to continue celebrating his friend's wedding, which was the cause of him missing yesterday's two rounds. The move will also save the team some money as they continue to be self-funded pending the announcement of a new deal that will carry them through the next three seasons.

"The funding we're hoping for won't kick in until 2002 so these last few races we're running on our own quarter," Lampus said. "I say quarter because a dime doesn't cover it anymore. I feel confident that the 4.64 we just ran will keep us in the field and we'll see where we wind up for tomorrow. By not running Round 4 we're trying to keep our expenses down. We're running on our own quarter but I'm trying to make it a dime."

The Lampus Racing operation has Dupuy's undivided attention this weekend as the other car he tunes is without a driver. Toys for Tots Funny Car pro Johnny Gray had to leave the track yesterday when his father encountered medical problems. He will not return to this race.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Johnny, his father, and the entire Gray family," Lampus said. "It almost seems like we're teammates with Johnny because we've been pitting next door to him since we've been back to make it easy on Wayne. I have to thank his crew as well because they all came over and helped with our car after Johnny left. I wish he was here but more than that I hope his dad is okay. We all do."

Tune into ESPN 2 for coverage of this event. Qualifying round highlights run from 1:30-2:30 a.m. (ET) with a repeat from 5-6 a.m. (ET). Elimination coverage begins at 2-3 p.m. (ET) with a full show from 7-10 p.m. (ET). A repeat of the show airs from 3:30-6 a.m. (ET) Tuesday.

-LR-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Johnny Gray , Don Lampus