Morgan Lucas Qualifies Fifth During Professional Top Fuel Debut; Wins Eighth National Event in Top Alcohol Dragster BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 16, 2004) -- Twenty-year-old Morgan Lucas pulled double driving duty during the Lucas Oil Nationals at...
Morgan Lucas Qualifies Fifth During Professional Top Fuel Debut; Wins Eighth National Event in Top Alcohol Dragster
BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 16, 2004) -- Twenty-year-old Morgan Lucas pulled double driving duty during the Lucas Oil Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway by competing in both the Top Alcohol and Top Fuel Dragster categories. Lucas qualified fifth with an elapsed time of 4.596-seconds at 320.43 miles per hour during his professional debut piloting Joe Amato's Lucas Oil Dragster.
"Everything went by so fast that I thought I was in Star Wars going warp speed," said Lucas of his first day of Top Fuel qualifying. "People shouldn't be allowed to have this much fun. Wayne and the whole team are doing a great job with the car and Joe is teaching me so much about driving. I couldn't be happier with everything."
"I have total confidence in Morgan moving into the top fuel car," added Forrest Lucas of the team's qualifying efforts. "We are competing against the best drivers and crew chiefs in the world and I felt we were going to be a little behind because they were three races ahead of us with the new tires and 85% rule. I thought we would be lucky to get down the track with a 4.596."
The Lucas Oil team used Saturday's qualifying session with the hopes of improving their No. 5 position. Unfortunately, the car smoked the tires both times down the track so the team was unable to move up the qualifying ladder.
In the first round of eliminations on Sunday Lucas was pitted against No. 12 qualifier John Smith. Smith drove his Preston Dragster to the finish line first with an elapsed time of 4.805-seconds at 303.64 mph against Lucas' 4.830-seconds at 293.47 mph.
"The first round of eliminations was definitely a learning experience for me," continued Lucas. "Top Fuel is a lot more cut-throat than alcohol but still very professional at the same time. I grabbed the brake for the first time during the run. You can feel everything in that car; tire smoke, shaking, everything. Of course it's disappointing to go out in the first round but it's all a learning experience."
"When Morgan moved into the A-Fuel car from super comp, he did a good job and it was really exciting," said Forrest. "But, this is probably the biggest moment in my life. Joe, Wayne (Dupuy, Crew Chief) and the entire crew are a great group of people and we are going to be a very successful team and have fun along the way."
"Even through Morgan is only 20-years-old, he is older than his age," added hall-of-fame driver, Joe Amato. "I want to share with Morgan what I know and teach him about driving, life, business, being a driver and taking care of PR and media. He wants to be a champion and if you can stay focused and driven that is the real success."
Lucas added to the excitement by earning the Top Alcohol pole position when he drove his Lucas Oil Dragster to a performance of 5.252-seconds at 265.90 mph. With only 15 cars in the field, Lucas had a bye in the first round of eliminations on Saturday afternoon. Crew Chief Jim Rizzoli took advantage of the single pass to test something new that proved to work after they posted an elapsed time of 5.294-seconds at 263.41 mph.
The second round of eliminations paired Lucas against Steve Federlin. Federlin was first off the starting line but Lucas made up the difference at the finish line to take the win light with a performance of 5.28-seconds at 265.01 mph against Federlin's run of 5.404-seconds at 262.23 mph.
The reigning Division 7 champion was pitted against David Wells in the third round of eliminations and easily earned the win to advance to the final after Wells suffered car trouble and shut off early. Rizzoli used consistent tune-ups to put Lucas in his second consecutive final round with another 5.287-second pass. The last time Lucas made a final round appearance he earned the event title at the Fram/Autolite Nationals in Sonoma.
Lucas earned his second victory in as many national events by defeating Bill Reichart in the final round of Top Alcohol Dragster eliminations. Lucas had the advantage off the starting line with a 0.037-second reaction time and held on for the win with a conservative performance of 5.374 at 261.67 mph against Reichart's pass of 5.378-seconds at 270.70 mph.
"This win takes a little of the pain away after going out first round in top fuel," continued Lucas. "The team is doing so good right with Jim as the crew chief. We have really come a long way as a team and the car is awesome right now."
The Amato Racing/Lucas Oil crew heads to Memphis, Tenn. for the 17th annual O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals Aug. 20-22.