Lucas Takes New Car to Charlotte Top Fuel Title
Even after scoring a significant victory at the NHRA national event in Charlotte Sep. 15, GEICO/Lucas Oil Top Fuel dragster driver Morgan Lucas simply wants to enjoy the fruits of his team’s labor: a new, built-in-house race car.
Lucas roared up four spots in the Top Fuel standings with his second victory of the season, this one coming in the 6th annual Carlyle Tools Carolina NHRA Nationals, the first race of the Countdown to the Championship. But though he’s 30 points out of the lead, Lucas isn’t ready to worry about the championship.
“The points don’t matter until the end of the year,” Lucas insisted. “We’ve never been in this situation, chasing a championship. We just want to run well. We want to know that we’re doing the best that we can do. The team did a great job today, put a great car underneath me, and they carried me. We are a team, and I’m really genuinely proud to be a part of it.”
Lucas was driving a new car engineered by crew chief Aaron Brooks and built by Brooks, assistant crew chief Rod Centorbi, and clutch specialist Richie Crampton in the Morgan Lucas Racing shop in Brownsburg, Ind. The car is the first out of the MLR shop and was completed just before Indy and tested early last week.
“We wanted something a little bit better,” Lucas said. “We wanted something that we knew we could build pre-load into the car, that we could make a little more forgiving, lighter, just little things. Aaron is our crew chief, but he’s an artist when it comes to working with metal. We’ve got a couple of other guys in the shop who are the same way.
“They took this deal and ran with it, and next thing you know we have a great car that we have a lot of confidence in that seems like every run it takes what we put on it.”
Lucas was stellar in the new car this weekend, grabbing the No. 1 qualifying position and then posting the lowest elapsed time in three of the four rounds of eliminations. He started with a 3.769 at 319.37 mph against No. 16 qualifier Terry McMillen in the first round, easily beating McMillen’s run of 3.857 seconds at 322.04 mph.
“I don’t know if it back-sided a piston or what happened, but it broke a piston at somewhere around 300 feet,” Lucas said of his run of 3.886 seconds at 288.70 mph. “I could feel it, but I had to keep my foot in it and hope that everything panned out. It wasn’t pretty and it was a lucky round.”
Bernstein smoked the tires early and coasted across in 5.946 seconds at 103.86 mph. Lucas then took advantage in the semifinals against Doug Kalitta, leaving first and running 3.796 seconds at 310.13 mph to beat Kalitta’s pass of 3.818 seconds at 325.61 mph.
Lucas faced points leader Spencer Massey in the final and got off the line first and made another quick pass of 3.788 seconds at 317.49 mph. That held off Massey’s run of 3.816 seconds at 319.60 mph to secure his ninth career victory and his first in Charlotte.
“I don’t know if this is the biggest win, but I think for the team this is probably the biggest win,” Lucas said. “For me it’s a big win, but not as big as it is probably for them.”
“It was just our weekend,” Lucas said. “I don’t know what else to say about it other than my guys have worked really hard, and I’m proud to see them get out of this car right now what they put into it.”
Lucas and the GEICO/Lucas Oil team will get another chance to run their new car next weekend at the national event in Dallas.
(Photos courtesy NHRA/National Dragster; Click to enlarge)