St Louis: Career weekend for Don Lampus ends too soon

ST. LOUIS (June 24) -- A career weekend for Top Fuel driver Don Lampus ended abruptly in the first round of eliminations Saturday, dashing the Texan's best chance yet to claim the first national event win of his NHRA rookie season. After a ...

ST. LOUIS (June 24) -- A career weekend for Top Fuel driver Don Lampus ended abruptly in the first round of eliminations Saturday, dashing the Texan's best chance yet to claim the first national event win of his NHRA rookie season. After a considerable rain delay, Lampus was dismissed by Larry Dixon, who ran a 4.734-second lap at 304.19 mph in front of Lampus' 4.826-second pass at 305.01 mph.

What made the defeat hard to take for the ExpressAutoParts.com team is that Lampus had run the fastest lap of his life and the quickest elapsed time of his 2000 campaign during qualifying when he posted a jaw-dropping 4.674-second pass at 315.19 mph. The lap was faster than any other posted this weekend and earned Lampus the No. 7 position on the qualifying ladder, a career-best starting point for the 35-year-old pro.

Lampus even entered the elimination rounds of the fourth annual Sears Craftsman Nationals with lane choice over Dixon, who's best qualifying effort was a 4.697-second attempt at 306.05 mph.

"We definitely had everything stacked in our favor," said Lampus, the reigning IHRA Top Fuel champ. "I'm really disappointed that we're leaving here with another first-round loss. We had two great qualifying passes. We wanted to run in the 4.6-second range and we did it twice. But when we needed another quick lap today it just wasn't there.

"I was really surprised when I got out of the car and they told me I ran a 4.82. What a bummer. Then I heard (Dixon) ran a 4.73 and I thought, 'There was another one that we could have won.' I could actually feel the difference in the car between the run today and the two 4.6-second runs we had in qualifying. It just wasn't pulling as hard.

"We got back to the pit and realized that we had a jet clogged for part of the run and the No. 4 cylinder was out. It's hard to make power on seven cylinders.

"If you take a step back and look at the weekend as a whole, it was a good one for us. I'd never qualified in the top half of the field at an NHRA race until now and we set career-best numbers again, which means we're moving in the right direction. It's just hard on all of us to finish it the way we did. We're a better team then we showed today."

The elimination rounds of the fourth annual Sears Craftsman Nationals will be broadcast from 10 p.m. to midnight (ET) Sunday and will re-air from 1-3 a.m. (ET) Thursday.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Don Lampus