Seattle: Lampus and Amato duel to the end

SEATTLE (July 30) -- Reigning IHRA champion Don Lampus had five-time NHRA champion Joe Amato on the ropes for the majority of their quarter-mile battle Sunday at the 13th annual Prolong Northwest Nationals. But Lampus' ExpressAutoParts.com ...

SEATTLE (July 30) -- Reigning IHRA champion Don Lampus had five-time NHRA champion Joe Amato on the ropes for the majority of their quarter-mile battle Sunday at the 13th annual Prolong Northwest Nationals. But Lampus' ExpressAutoParts.com dragster lost traction just before the 1,000-foot mark, allowing Amato to log his first win ever over the NHRA Rookie of the Year candidate by a slender 4.799-second to 4.857-second margin.

It was a thrilling first-round race at picturesque Seattle International Raceway (SIR). Both men left the starting line hard with Lampus quickly gaining an ever-widening advantage. By half-track he was clearly ahead, holding a .036-second (or approximately 12-foot) advantage. But the infamous back half of SIR's track failed to hold the horsepower of the ExpressAutoParts.com machine and Lampus' tires began to lose traction. He stayed on the throttle through the scoreboards, filling the air with tire smoke, but the damage had already been done and Amato was able to steal the win by half a car length.

"I had him at half track and we were dead-even at the 1,000-foot mark," Lampus said. "I didn't actually see him until right before the finish line. That's why I stayed on the throttle all the way past the scoreboards. It was a great race. Joe even came over to me in the shut-down area and congratulated me on making a good run. I guess it was just his turn to win."

The race marked the third time Lampus lined up against the legendary Amato this year. Lampus, a 36-year-old from Dallas, took the first two wins when Amato lost traction at the starting line. Today, Amato took a big step towards leveling the score.

"I guess I'm a little disappointed with the weekend," Lampus said. "We were on such a high note after going to the semis in Denver and I was hoping to maintain that momentum. We still ran very strong here but the end result is a first-round loss, which is tough to take.

"We went through a bunch of parts here. The fuel pump broke Friday and yesterday we found a big crack in the rear wing and had to skip a qualifying session because we couldn't take the chance of anything bad happening. But, despite all of our problems, this ExpressAutoParts.com crew did an outstanding job of getting the car ready and I know we'll be 100 percent next weekend in Somona. This team is getting stronger every race."

Lampus, a former off-road world champion, has successfully qualified for all 14 events contested so far on the 2000 NHRA tour. He has logged five elimination-round wins and has been a part of the Winston Top 10 after 11 races. He is currently in 10th place.

The elimination rounds of this race will air on ESPN2 from 7-9 p.m. (ET)/4-6 p.m. (PT) Sunday with a repeat from 3:30-5:30 a.m. (ET)/12:30-2:30 a.m. (PT) tomorrow morning.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Joe Amato , Don Lampus