Lucas using lessons of the past to find future success POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 2) -- The most prolific drag racer in history, 14-time Funny Car champion John Force, famously needed 10 years and 75 races to win his first event. The best Pro Stock ...
Lucas using lessons of the past to find future success
POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 2) -- The most prolific drag racer in history, 14-time Funny Car champion John Force, famously needed 10 years and 75 races to win his first event. The best Pro Stock driver ever, Warren Johnson, didn't earn a trophy until 12 years after turning pro. All-time Top Fuel leader Tony Schumacher went 59 events until he climbed the winner's podium. Success in drag racing, it seems, takes time.
As 25-year-old Morgan Lucas starts his fifth professional campaign he reflects on the lessons he's learned in the first 101 NHRA events his team has entered. He remembers what's worked best for his group and the things that haven't gone so well. He also analyzes the reasons behind the success of the top teams in each of the last four years.
"We've learned so much," Lucas said. "We've learned how to be the good team owners. We've learned how to put the right people in place. And we've learned how to race.
"Consistency is key in this sport, and that goes way beyond having a consistent racecar, which is obviously very important. You need consistency in the way you conduct business. You need it in the crew you have around you. It's important to hire the right people and then allow them be the best they can be. We're going to do that this year and I'm pretty sure the results are going to come. It's our time to step up."
One thing that Lucas insists on is keeping crew chief Jimmy Walsh at the helm of the GEICO/Lucas Oil dragster regardless of the potential ups and downs the team might encounter.
"We're going to start and finish the year with the same crew chief no matter what," Lucas said. "Jimmy is such a solid guy and a true tuner in every sense of the word. He has a very common sense approach to things and we communicate really well. We're very similar in our thinking.
"In testing we got to talking about Alan Johnson (the crew chief that has won the last five Top Fuel championships.) We noticed he makes so much horsepower with his motors that he can run them safer in the early part of the racetrack where most of the problems usually happen. We also noticed that everyone else tries to chase him down by applying more clutch in that same area and usually get themselves in trouble.
"Jimmy finally says, 'you know what, we make a lot of power too. Let's just stomp on it.' So the next pass out he pours it on and we run a 3.80 at 310 mph with no effort at all. That's the kind of progressive thinking we need."
Lucas also knows that a workforce that feels comfortable and secure is the most effective at their jobs.
"The economy is on everyone's mind and it's not hard to see how it's hurt drag racing," Lucas said. "That's why we take care of our guys. We want them to know they have a home here. We do a lot of things together. We're like a family. That's important because you look at the Army team and it was the same group of guys together for a long time over there. That continuity delivered big-time results for them.
"Listen, we know we need to prove ourselves on the racetrack before anyone is going to look at us as serious championship contenders. We understand that. We understand a lot now, and I think that's going to make the difference this year."