'Containing the beast' on Lucas' mind as NHRA tour hits Phoenix PHOENIX (Feb. 15) -- Top Fuel driver Morgan Lucas had an interesting problem on his hands at last weekend's season-opening drag race in Pomona, Calif. -- his 8,000-horsepower GEICO...
'Containing the beast' on Lucas' mind as NHRA tour hits Phoenix
PHOENIX (Feb. 15) -- Top Fuel driver Morgan Lucas had an interesting problem on his hands at last weekend's season-opening drag race in Pomona, Calif. -- his 8,000-horsepower GEICO Powersports/Lucas Oil dragster was making too much horsepower.
After two great passes in qualifying, a 3.823 at a career-high 316.90 mph and a 3.830 at 309.91 mph, Lucas was poised to challenge for the title of the historic Winternationals. But his Gecko-adorned rail got a little too chippy on raceday and he ended up spinning his tires at mid-track during an opening round tilt against Troy Buff, ultimately putting him on the sidelines earlier than expected.
"The car is an animal," Lucas said as he prepped for this weekend's 26th annual Arizona NHRA Nationals. "And that's a really good thing. Credit Jimmy (Walsh, crew chief) and the guys for getting all they can out of our combination. The only issue we had was keeping the power down on the track in that one section.
"It's a fine line between being aggressive and giving the track too much power and we stepped over that line by just a touch. If we can just figure out how to contain this beast, we're going to be flying everywhere we go. It's really kind of exciting."
Off-season testing is one avenue teams have for figuring out the perfect combination, but six-year veteran Lucas says the best data always comes at national events, where the NHRA's vaunted Safety Safari has groomed the racing surface to perfection.
"Testing's great and we definitely want to test some more very soon because it helps," he said. "But at the same time we need to take full advantage of the time we have at these national events. In Pomona, we lost two rounds of qualifying because of a malfunction with this automatic shutoff deal the NHRA is making us use and that kind of hurt us a little bit.
"Coming into Firebird, we want to make sure we use all four qualifying sessions, not just with my car but with my teammate Shawn Langdon's car also. That way we should have eight good runs worth of data to work from when we start eliminations.
"Shawn and his guys got more out of their Lucas Oil/Speedco dragster in Pomona and it was good to see them have a little success. Now we both need to get going so we can help each other out."
After a winter's worth of bad weather in his hometown of Indianapolis, Lucas also hopes to recharge his personal batteries in Phoenix. Like most of his snowbound peers, the sport's youngest nitro pro says he won't mind it a bit if the sun is shining every day.
"I'm ready for more sunshine, for sure," the 26-year-old said. "It's always nice to warm up after a winter of nothing but snow. Plus, it will help us get better at racing in warmer conditions, which is how it is for most of the season anyway. It's very early in the year and we're all figuring things out but I know we have a better car now than we've ever had before so I'm anxious to show everyone what we can do."
Professional qualifying begins with two sessions Friday afternoon.