Lucas' career-best season ends at the hands of new champ Schumacher POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 15) -- It took the best Top Fuel racer in history to end a career season for GEICO Powersports/Lucas Oil racer Morgan Lucas, as seven-time NHRA champion...
Lucas' career-best season ends at the hands of new champ Schumacher
POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 15) -- It took the best Top Fuel racer in history to end a career season for GEICO Powersports/Lucas Oil racer Morgan Lucas, as seven-time NHRA champion Tony Schumacher put Lucas on the trailer for the last time this year Sunday in the quarterfinal round of the Auto Club NHRA Finals at Pomona Raceway.
Nevertheless, Lucas was feeling good after a year in which he scored three national event victories, a pair of No. 1 qualifying efforts, and an impressive 27-21 race day record.
"This year has been good and I really have nothing to complain about," Lucas said. "I'm happy and all we can do now is go into the off season, work on the car, work on the little quirky things to make us a little more consistent, and make a little more power here and there. We just need to be the best we can be.
"Bottom line is that if we can keep making improvements based on a seventh place finish this season, I think that's still good and maybe we can finish in the top five next year. That would be great. We have two cars I think are capable of doing it and we're going to have the right people in place to make it all work."
This weekend's Finals started with Lucas racing out of the No. 8 position against part-timer Dave Grubnic of Australia. Exhibiting the great reflexes he's shown all year, Lucas left first with a great .043-second reaction time against Grubnic's .073-second launch. Things didn't get much better for Grubnic from there as he soon lost traction, although with Lucas streaking away to a winning 3.880 at 309.06 mph, it may not have mattered.
In the second round, Lucas once again left first, this time against Schumacher, but the GEICO Powersports car was soon encountering trouble, smoking its tires before halftrack. The miscue allowed Schumacher to take the win with a 3.836 at 318.54 mph to Lucas' 4.312 at 257.68 mph.
"We always want to come in and win and beat everybody but we especially want to win the big rounds like that one," Lucas said. "Those are what really set the champions apart from the winners, and that's how you take that next step is by stepping up to the plate, swinging, and hitting a home run.
"We went out there, and I don't think we were in the absolute lane of choice, but I don't think it mattered much. I think that Schumacher had a great car. We went up, did what we thought we had to do to win and we missed the tuneup. I think we gave him a good run for his money up until the point that we smoked the tires."
With all his preseason goals realized, Lucas will stay in town for the season-ending awards banquet, which he will attend with all the members of his two-car team.
"I haven't walked on the stage at the awards ceremony since 2005, and I'm really excited to do that," Lucas said. "Not because of the glory, but just because of the fact that it goes to show that we've made a vast improvement with our race team.
"We can also cheer for our Lucas Oil teammate Hector Arana in Pro Stock Motorcycle because he just won the world title in that class. Hector has been with Lucas Oil longer than anyone we sponsor and it's so cool to see him win it all. We're going to have a big party tonight."