TOPEKA, Kan. (Oct. 1) -- Top Fuel driver Don Lampus was impressive at times in his first race weekend with new crew chief Wayne Dupuy, but the end result has the popular pro leaving Heartland Park Topeka with his third straight first-round loss.
TOPEKA, Kan. (Oct. 1) -- Top Fuel driver Don Lampus was impressive at times in his first race weekend with new crew chief Wayne Dupuy, but the end result has the popular pro leaving Heartland Park Topeka with his third straight first-round loss. Adding to the anguish of the weekend is the fact that Lampus fell out of the Winston Top 10 by one point.
"I know there's a lot to be thankful for but I'm disappointed right now," Lampus said. "Considering it was our first weekend under an entirely different system, we did great. But I know everyone in this pit has that sick feeling inside right now."
Lampus and Dupuy shined in qualifying, recording a 4.677-second pass at 299.66 mph to put the ExpressAutoParts.com dragster in the top half of the field for the sixth time this season. The elapsed time was the second quickest of the year for Lampus under the new 90-percent maximum nitromethane fuel ratio rule.
The impressive start set-up a first round showdown with Bob Vandergriff, who had qualified ninth with a 4.693 at 309.06 mph. By virtue of his superior elapsed time, Lampus had the privilege of lane choice in the opening round of eliminations.
Race Day opened with Lampus and Vandergriff christening the strip with it's first race. Out of the gate, the advantage was squarely in the ExpressAutoParts.com corner with Lampus posting a very quick .461-second reaction time -- well ahead of Vandergriff's .501-second launch. But just past half-track, the engine on the ExpressAutoParts.com car exploded and the resulting loss of power allowed Vandergriff by for a 4.80 to 4.89-second win.
The explosion also incurred an oildown penalty against Lampus, which cost him 10 points and $1,000. It was his first oildown fine of the year and the loss of points knocked him out of the Winston Top 10 for the first time since early April.
"The results don't show it but we advanced a great deal this weekend," Lampus said. "Even the first round lap today was good until the engine let go. We found some problems that have been slowing us down for awhile now and I'm super-excited about that. I know we're going to be flying when we get all the pieces in the right place. We're so close to have a hot rod that can be a real world-beater.
"Falling out of the Top 10 because of an oildown penalty is hard to take but it certainly clarifies our goals for Memphis. I'm glad we race again next weekend because I want to get back on the track and put this weekend behind us as quickly as possible."
The elimination rounds of the 12th annual Advance Auto Parts Nationals will air today on TNN from 4:30-6 p.m. (ET and PT).