Phoenix: Don Lampus eliminations recap

Lampus exits early but stays seventh in points PHOENIX (Feb. 24) -- The fight for the POWERade Drag Racing Series Top Fuel championship is still a possibility for driver Don Lampus, despite a first-round exit at this weekend's ...

Lampus exits early but stays seventh in points

PHOENIX (Feb. 24) -- The fight for the POWERade Drag Racing Series Top Fuel championship is still a possibility for driver Don Lampus, despite a first-round exit at this weekend's Checker-Schuck's-Kragen Nationals. The 2000 Rookie of the Year earned enough points by qualifying sixth and running in today's first round to stay comfortably in the Top 10 of the POWERade championship points standings in the No. 7 slot.

Running on a limited budget, Lampus carded just one qualifying lap in his Mothers Against Drunk Driving dragster, a steady 4.617-second pass at 315.64 mph. He then trailered his car until today's opening round, where he lost to Japanese newcomer Yuichi Oyama. Lampus' car overpowered the track at the starting line and disappeared in a cloud of tire smoke. Oyama won with a beatable 4.707 at 308.64 mph to Lampus' 12.279 at 74.84 mph.

"I never expected it to smoke the tires right at the hit of throttle like that," Lampus said. "I'm really disappointed. We saved all of our bullets [engines] for today. Maybe we should have spent one yesterday to get more familiar with the track. You just never know. I'm certainly not second-guessing our decision and I know hindsight is 20-20 but it's still a bummer.

"It would have been a real Cinderella story to have just one round of qualifying and then turn around and win some rounds today. I guess we just didn't have enough practice."

MADD crew chief Wayne Dupuy was equally upset. "I had too much clutch in the set-up," Dupuy said. "I never would have expected the track to go away like it did. It was cooler this morning and I thought it would be at least as good if not better than it was yesterday and Friday. I made the wrong call, plain and simple."

Although the team remains a major player in the points chase, funding concerns could sideline the entire operation before the next national event, the 33rd annual Mac Tools Gatornationals, which is scheduled for March 14-17 in Gainesville, Fla.

"The budget concerns of this race team are very real," said Lampus, who will wed fiancee Anita Patry next weekend in Pittsburgh, Pa. "If something doesn't come together soon we're parking the car. It's a shame because we're right there with the top teams but you have to keep the sponsorship dollars coming in to stay at this level."

The elimination rounds of the 18th annual Checker-Schuck's-Kragen Nationals air today on ESPN2 from 7-10 p.m. locally. The entire program will be repeated from 3-6 a.m. Tuesday.

-dlr-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Don Lampus