Lucas slays the giants, wins third NHRA race of the year MEMPHIS (Oct. 5) -- Morgan Lucas has been saying all year he can beat any given driver at any given time in his GEICO Powersports/Lucas Oil Top Fuel dragster. Monday at Memphis Motorsports...
Lucas slays the giants, wins third NHRA race of the year
MEMPHIS (Oct. 5) -- Morgan Lucas has been saying all year he can beat any given driver at any given time in his GEICO Powersports/Lucas Oil Top Fuel dragster. Monday at Memphis Motorsports Park he proved it again, beating three higher-ranked opponents -- including teammate and rookie-of-the-year candidate Shawn Langdon, top qualifier Larry Dixon, and point leader Tony Schumacher -- for his third NHRA trophy of the '09 season.
"To win any race feels awesome; to beat some of the best guys in the sport to get the win is exceptional," Lucas said. " We went five years without winning one of these deals; now we've won three and they've all came after rain delays. I guess I'm not meant to win races with a full set of bleachers."
The day started with a gut-check race against Langdon, who is fighting hard to secure the Auto Club Rookie of the Year award. While rumblings in the pit had Lucas giving the win to Langdon to help his cause along, nothing could have been farther from the truth as the two went head-to-head in an epic race, the first ever between the longtime friends. After 1,000 feet of battling side-by-side, it was Lucas eking out the victory by .005 seconds, 3.871 at 309.84 mph to Langdon's 3.886 at 311.27 mph.
Up next was two-time world champion Dixon and his powerful Al-Anabi Racing dragster, which had carried him to the No. 1 qualifying spot. In another classic race, both men streaked down the strip as mirror images until Lucas was able to shove his nose in front for an even closer .001-second win.
A wire-to-wire job on part-timer Steve Torrence in the semifinals set up the colossal final-round match-up with Schumacher, who has won the last five world titles and assumed the point lead with a win last weekend in Dallas.
Different from his other races, this one was decided a little earlier when both men lost traction during their runs. The fight was on from there with Lucas managing to get his dragster calmed down and under control first, zooming to the finish line with an ugly, but winning, 5.133 at 251.44 mph to Schumacher's surrendering 8.216 at 75.19 mph.
"I went up there with the clear intention to do what we'd done the rest of the day, which is nail the tree and go down the track," Lucas said. "It's funny the way wins happen. Sometimes you're on; sometimes the car is on. Today I feel like both the team and the car were on.
"When we went up for the final, the last thing on my mind was the car shaking the tires, smoking, doing anything stupid. When it did, it was awesome. It got sideways and we got out of it. I thought I was going to cross the centerline for a second. It was just intense, the emotions you go through. It happens so fast, but I didn't see him. I hit the gas about halfway down just trying to get it to straighten out.
"The awesome thing about 1,000 foot racing as a driver is that you get to see the scoreboard in a bigger frame and you can tell if you won or not. It was so intense and I'm so proud of my guys right now."
On the other side of the pit, Langdon was excited about Lucas' big win, even though it partially came at his expense.
"We knew Morgan would be good so we threw the best we had at it," Langdon said. "We were first pair out in completely different conditions from qualifying, and we didn't want to beat ourselves by smoking the tires. We made a good run. We went 3.88, I went .035 on the tree and we lost by .005 of a second.
"There was a lot of questions and speculation about how we were going to race, because we're teammates and I was a little higher up in the points. We told people we were going to race straight up and that's what we did. We've got different sponsors to keep happy. There are no team orders over here.
"I'm really happy for Morgan. We're both up there in the points now (Lucas is fifth, Langdon sixth) and have a chance to get both cars in the top five. The dream season continues."
Up next, Lucas and Langdon will immediately head to Richmond, Va., for the fourth annual Virginia NHRA Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park, which begin Friday.