Reading: Lampus regroups after crew chief departs

READING, Pa. (Sept. 17) -- For the first time in the 2000 NHRA season, Top Fuel driver Don Lampus failed to qualify his ExpressAutoParts.com dragster at a national event. Lampus made two partial passes Friday at the 16th annual Keystone Nationals...

READING, Pa. (Sept. 17) -- For the first time in the 2000 NHRA season, Top Fuel driver Don Lampus failed to qualify his ExpressAutoParts.com dragster at a national event. Lampus made two partial passes Friday at the 16th annual Keystone Nationals before his crew chief Mike McLaughlin abruptly left the team, removing enough components out of the car to put it out of commission for the remainder of the race.

Despite the did-not-qualify (DNQ) finish and the missed opportunity to earn more championship points in the Winston standings, Lampus remained firmly in the Top 10. His Rookie of the Year campaign now moves to Heartland Park Topeka where the tour makes it's next stop.

"I'm really glad this weekend's over," Lampus said. "But I'm leaving here with my chin up knowing full well that we will get through this and move on to bigger things. It's very disappointing but at the same time the crew has rallied together and come up with an excellent gameplan for the rest of the year.

"We had a sudden change and had to take a step back with our first DNQ of the season. Ending up with a DNQ really hurts no matter how you cut it but we had enough of a cushion to stay in the Top 10. That's a testament to our hard work this year.

"The silver lining is that I saw first-hand what this group of people is capable of when everything is stacked against us. I'm more proud of the guys on this team now then I ever have been before. They all handled this adversity with poise and professionalism and we are all more fired up now about racing we ever have been in the past. We're ready to write a new chapter in our racing book."

The immediate plan is for the crew to take the car back to Lampus' shop in Dallas where the entire machine will be reworked and retooled for the remaining five races.

"The guys want to check out everything on this car," said Lampus. "They said they won't let me back in it until they think totally safe and ready for battle. I have absolute confidence in what we are doing here. I guarantee we'll be fighting for the title of the Topeka race. There is no doubt in my mind we'll run quicker than we ever have before."

The next event on the NHRA schedule is the 12th annual Advance Auto Parts Nationals in Topeka, Kan., which runs from Sept. 28-Oct. 1.

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Mike McLaughlin , Don Lampus