Reading: Nittany Lion Lampus returns to home den

READING, Pa. (Sept. 11) -- Move over Joe Amato. The great state of Pennsylvania has another native son to cheer for this weekend at the 16th annual Keystone Nationals drag race. Top Fuel pilot Don Lampus returns to his home state with a firm grip...

READING, Pa. (Sept. 11) -- Move over Joe Amato. The great state of Pennsylvania has another native son to cheer for this weekend at the 16th annual Keystone Nationals drag race. Top Fuel pilot Don Lampus returns to his home state with a firm grip on a top 10 berth in the Winston points standings and the Pittsburgh native is hoping a little home cooking will help propel his ExpressAutoParts.com team up the world rankings.

Born close enough to the industrial sector's steel mills to feel the heat of the region's biggest by-product, Lampus was raised in the Pittsburgh suburb of Fox Chapel. The avid outdoorsman and deer hunter then moved to State College to pursue an Industrial Engineering degree from Penn State University, graduating with a B.S. degree in 1986.

The need for speed, engrained by his father Don Sr., who still resides in Fox Chapel, eventually took Lampus to California where he competed in the wild world of off-road racing. Within a few seasons, he scored the first World Championship of his career in the SCORE Off-Road series while completing all 2,600 miles of the 1996 circuit.

A few years later Lampus switched to drag racing and in just his first full season on the 10-race IHRA tour, he won four races and the 1999 IHRA World Championship. His success on the regional tour inspired him to move to the big leagues of the NHRA where he is currently a leading candidate for Rookie of the Year honors.

"It all started for me in Pennsylvania and it's hard to describe how excited I am to be coming home," said Lampus, who now resides near his company headquarters in Dallas. "I've had this weekend circled on the calendar since we made the decision to race in the NHRA. This is my home state and I'm going to have a ton of friends and family at the track supporting me. This is the perfect time to have a breakthrough race.

"This ExpressAutoParts.com Top Fuel dragster is certainly capable of winning. We've proven that in the elimination rounds several times. But we haven't been able to get it together for an entire race and walk away with the trophy. Maybe this will be our time.

"We need to turn it up early and put our car in the top half of the field again. That way we'll start race day with lane choice and we'll know we're one of the quickest cars there. We tried some things to make us faster last weekend and I think we'll have a better handle on the car this time around. There is no denying the fact that this is a very special race for me. There is a lot on the table for this ExpressAutoParts.com team."

Same-day television coverage of the 16th annual Keystone Nationals will air from 9:30-11:30 p.m. ET, Sunday, Sept. 17, on ESPN2.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Joe Amato , Don Lampus