Another solid weekend for Morgan Lucas Racing ST. LOUIS (May 3) -- A top qualifying effort by team owner/driver Morgan Lucas and a strong semifinal finish by teammate Shawn Langdon highlighted the 13th annual O'Reilly NHRA Midwest Nationals for...
Another solid weekend for Morgan Lucas Racing
ST. LOUIS (May 3) -- A top qualifying effort by team owner/driver Morgan Lucas and a strong semifinal finish by teammate Shawn Langdon highlighted the 13th annual O'Reilly NHRA Midwest Nationals for Morgan Lucas Racing.
Coming off his first career victory two weeks ago in Atlanta, Lucas was the darling of the media at Gateway International Raceway, leading the ESPN2 broadcast with recollections of his GEICO Powersports/Lucas Oil dragster team's big weekend in the Deep South. He then proved his team was for real with a top qualifying effort of 3.881 seconds at 307.02 mph, which gave him his first NHRA pole since 2005.
Across the pit, Lucas Oil/Dixie Choppers-sponsored racer Langdon got off to a slightly quieter start with a sixth-best qualifying effort of 3.906 at 306.05 mph. But on race day, it was Langdon proving his mettle, racing to the final four for the second time in his rookie season. Lucas, meanwhile, bowed out in the quarterfinals.
"Another win would have been great but it's hard not to be happy with the effort this entire team is putting forth right now," said Lucas, the youngest professional in the NHRA's nitro ranks. "Both cars are running strong and Shawn's driving like he's been doing this for years. I'll say the same thing now as I said when we left Atlanta -- I can't wait to get to the next race."
Lucas beat Kevin Jones in the first round with a 3.860 at 305.91 mph -- the quickest pass of the entire session -- and was set for a big race against Brandon Bernstein in Round 2. Unfortunately, his car suffered from tire shake and he had to pedal the accelerator to try and regain traction, which was all Bernstein needed to take the win.
"We underestimated what the track would hold and went up there with a tune-up that was a little weak," Lucas said. "When you have to pedal that soon into the run you really need the other guy to have problems for a chance to win. That obviously didn't happen with Brandon going 3.90, so we ended up second. That's the way it goes some times."
Langdon got a red-light gift in Round 1 but still ran the second quickest time of the session with a 3.886 at 314.46 mph. He then took out six-time and defending world champion Tony Schumacher in a great side-by-side race that favored Langdon by .011 seconds, 3.885 at 311.05 mph to Schumacher's 3.895 at 299.46 mph.
The semifinal bout with Antron Brown was even closer, with the final margin of victory a mere .005 seconds. This time it was Brown taking the stripe first with a 3.854 at 312.57 mph to Langdon's 3.885 at 311.05 mph.
"I think that lane got us," said John Stewart, crew chief on Langdon's car. "We were moving down through there right with him but it started spinning the tires down track just enough to let him get by. The driver did his job and beat him off the starting line. We just couldn't cash in on the top end. It was still a great weekend."