Lucas plans to use mid-pack perch to begin assault on Thunder Valley
Morgan Lucas is hoping to win his second Top Fuel race of the season from the bottom half of the elimination ladder Sunday when the battle for the 11th annual Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals commences at noon from famed Bristol Dragway.
Earlier this season, Lucas emerged from the No. 9 qualifying slot to win the NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, Calif., and seize the championship points lead for the first time in his career. After qualifying 10th on Saturday with a 3.902 at 314.02 mph in his GEICO/Lucas Oil dragster, Lucas is plotting a similar course to the winner's circle.
"To win a drag race you have to be prepared to beat everybody in the field," Lucas said. "For whatever reason, every time we've won it's never the normal way. It's always something with the weather, or we're qualified in the bottom half and we have to fight to get lane choice. It's never easy, but we like it that way. My guys seem to thrive when the pressure is high."
Lucas will begin his search for another 60th anniversary pewter Wally trophy against No. 7 qualifier Terry McMillen, who posted a 3.879 at 316.45 mph. Although McMillen was slightly quicker in qualifying, Lucas knows his GEICO machine has the horsepower to get the win.
"We just had bad luck in the final qualifying session and dropped a cylinder," Lucas said. "We haven't done that in awhile, and we got a DQ on it because the dumb driver kept his foot in it and blew the rods out of it. These cars, when you run them on the edge, it can happen sometimes.
"That was the best session and we should have improved but we didn't. It's okay; at least we went down the track on Friday night pretty good.
"We're still trying to find the sweet spot on the car. We've been making some strides. We'll run Terry and try to give him a good drag race. If I can do my job, we might be able to pull out a good round win and maybe learn some stuff and be able to keep doing that and make the progress work for us."
Wet weather conditions Saturday delayed the action by three and a half hours and gave the drivers two nighttime sessions. At this point, no one is really sure what will happen overnight or on race day. No matter what, Lucas says his group will be ready.
"I think it's more a distraction to driving because you're always concerned about what could happen to the car," Lucas said. "You always have to be on your toes when it comes to driving these things anyhow. It's hard.
"The guys have been working their butts off to give me a good racecar. It's just something where we haven't been able to find that happy medium at every race yet, but it's coming soon."
-source: lucas oil racing