LUCAS STARTS THIRD IN SEATTLE AFTER CONTROVERSIAL QUALIYING TWITCH SEATTLE (July 23) -- After a strange beginning to a controversial weekend, Morgan Lucas brought his Lucas Oil/Keystone Automotive Top Fuel dragster home in the third starting ...
LUCAS STARTS THIRD IN SEATTLE AFTER CONTROVERSIAL QUALIYING TWITCH
SEATTLE (July 23) -- After a strange beginning to a controversial weekend, Morgan Lucas brought his Lucas Oil/Keystone Automotive Top Fuel dragster home in the third starting position for the 18th annual CarQuest Auto Parts Nationals at Pacific Raceways. He recorded a weekend best qualifying time of 4.548 seconds, 323.35 mph, which he ran in his Saturday morning session. In the afternoon session, Lucas clocked in with another consistent time of 4.58 seconds.
In Friday's qualifying, Lucas' steady ongoing progression after morning rains continued when he ran across the finish line to the tune of 4.621 seconds, 314.68 mph placing him second at the time. His opportunity to improve on that number in the evening was denied after NHRA officials decided to pull the plug on qualifying with four Top Fuel cars remaining in accordance with the track's extended curfew rules. The crux of the entire problem surrounded the oil down of David Baca, who smothered the quarter-mile with his engine's oil after a malfunction in his power plant. In the time it would have taken to clean up the suddenly slick surface, time would have over extended the curfew and NHRA halted all on-track action at the Pacific Raceways.
"I feel that I handled myself in a poor manner," said Lucas about his temperance when he learned that he wouldn't be allowed race in the perfect qualifying conditions. "I still don't regret what I said about the situation, and I still think the NHRA was very wrong with the decision they made. We asked prior to our run if they were going to run the whole session and Graham Light (NHRA VP of Competition) said that every car would run. How many sessions do we go through in a year without an oil down. Lighting problems are by no means anything like weather problems. They are predicable and common knowledge for the past three years here in Seattle. We received three qualifying sessions and everyone else four. In my honest opinion, I feel like we got the short end of the stick. We had a good chance to possibly run a 4.50 to 4.52 ET last night, and we were denied that. We have a great race car and proved we can go down the racetrack with it."
"I think the NHRA needs to plan ahead better next time and work within the schedule. They need to go to the tracks that are more notorious than others for having poor lighting. We have a business here, which includes the 'Big Bud' points we have to worry about as well as the entire trickle down effect. In fact, with the Full Throttle Pit Crew Challenge we cannot meet the criteria this weekend because we only had three runs. That hurts because we have points to worry about all over the board in multiple areas. I think it was a poor decision that caused all this controversy. Looking at the big scheme of things NHRA needs to put together a checklist of items that every track needs. It's just that simple, but remember people have businesses here they are jeopardizing and maybe the NHRA should think about the race teams instead of themselves."
Although with his qualifying pass of 4.548 seconds on Saturday to earn him the third starting position on the roster, he still doesn't feel vindicated about what occurred last night.
"Not completely, no," said a stern Lucas. "I do feel in a sense that we can still win this race, but in the sense of being denied certain things, no because I haven't heard an official apology from the NHRA. We've been told to just 'deal with it'. I love the sport. I love driving a NHRA Top Fuel dragster, but I feel fair is fair and we weren't treated that way. That's not racing. That's politics and it's dirty politics. It is by no means the end of the world, however. They really need to think about what they do before they act. It's not about the money, it's about the sport and they need to do what's best for the sport and think next time. We are going to be fine tomorrow. We have four rounds to win, and we're on a tough side of the ladder. We need to worry about that for right now rather than anything else."
Lucas' first round combatant will be again Scott Weis, the No. 14 qualifier, who he also met in the first round and defeated last weekend in Denver.
ESPN2 will air final round coverage at 9 p.m. EDT on Sunday, July 24.