Memphis: Early start not a wise move for Lampus

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Oct. 8) -- Top Fuel driver Don Lampus arrived at Memphis Motorsports Park for the 13th annual AutoZone Nationals presented by Pennzoil with the goal of returning to the Top 10 in the Winston championship points standings. But his...

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Oct. 8) -- Top Fuel driver Don Lampus arrived at Memphis Motorsports Park for the 13th annual AutoZone Nationals presented by Pennzoil with the goal of returning to the Top 10 in the Winston championship points standings. But his second red-light start of the season disqualified him in the opening session, leaving him just three points shy of his goal in 11th place.

Lampus had a very quick racecar again this weekend. Crew chief Wayne Dupuy tuned the ExpressAutoParts.com dragster through several quick laps during qualifying, the best of which was a 4.671-second, 308.92-mph effort. The elapsed time placed Lampus in the ninth position. He then opened Sunday's elimination action opposite Bob Vandergriff, who had struggled all weekend except for one 4.654-second, 301.87-mph pass on Saturday.

Confidence on the ExpressAutoParts.com team was high when the two cars lined up for the day's first lap. But after a routine burnout and staging sequence, Lampus jumped off the starting line before the green light flashed, drawing an immediate disqualification from official starter Rick Stewart. Multiplying the disappointment was the fact that Vandergriff struggled to find traction and posted a very beatable 5.179-second, 189.42-mph lap.

"That was a big round for us and it sure didn't turn out the way we had hoped," Lampus said. "They say you win and lose as a team but it's hard to blame anybody except me for that loss. I can tell you this; the second red-light of my NHRA career isn't any easier to take than the first one. In fact this one hurts more because there was more on the line.

"All weekend long Rick had been starting the tree a second after both cars staged. I guess I thought he was going to do that again this time but he held it a little longer and I jumped. I was running my race when I should have been running the race Rick wanted us to have. It's his job to mix it up and my job to adapt. I didn't get it done today and we paid for it.

"I am extremely excited about the ExpressAutoParts.com car. We've been working very hard all season to have a car that consistently runs in the mid-4.6-second range and I think everyone on this team now knows that we have that with this new tune-up. Wayne has given us a great baseline to work from and I know it's just a matter of time until we start winning rounds at every race. We'll have to reload and get ready for Dallas."

Same-day coverage of the 13th annual AutoZone Nationals elimination rounds will begin at 5:30 p.m. (ET), today, on Speedvision.

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Don Lampus , Bob Vandergriff