Before the season, no one probably thought Morgan Lucas was a contender for NHRA’s Top Fuel world championship.
Well, Lucas is proving his critics wrong, so far.
On Friday night, Lucas took the provisional pole at the Spring Nationals with a 3.772-second lap at a track record speed of 327.74 mph at Royal Purple Raceway in Baytown, Texas.
Lucas actually had the identical elapsed time as Steve Torrence, but Lucas took the pole based on his faster mph. Torrence’s mph was 322.88.
“We were lucky to stay on top of that,” Lucas said. “When I hit the gas, the thing snapped the front end up and pulled it out of the beams. I actually think it might have run a little quicker than the ET showed. All I could keep thinking was it was as aggressive as H*ll and God please let this thing stick and it did. When Steve O ran than 4.772 right behind us, it was almost nerve-racking for a second just trying to wait and hear what the mph was. It is cool to race like this because I have never had a car to where I had to be concerned how everybody else was doing. I know that sounds weird, but it is truly a blessing to be able to have this thing going the direction it is going.”
Lucas was quick to praise his revamped team which includes new crew chiefs Aaron Brooks and Rod Centorbi.
I’m really fortunate to have the team that we do right now, and it was a good way to bounce back from what we did in Charlotte,” said Lucas said, who lost in the first round at Charlotte’s 4Wide Nationals. “We learned a lot in testing the next day (after Charlotte) and we came here on the first run and had an MSD box malfunction and it kind of cost us a run. But, I’m just really proud of this Geico team for stepping up when they need to step up. They have the confidence to put the car to where they think it is going to be able to run to its best potential.”
Lucas, who is fourth in the season points and has one win at the Gatornationals, is full of confidence himself.
“To be honest with you this year my confidence has been so much higher than it has been in years past,” said Lucas, whose best career NHRA Top Fuel points finish was fifth in 2005. “This car gives me no reason to lack confidence.”
Thanks to his stout run Friday, Lucas knows his team has far more options available Saturday.
“The luxury of the situation for us right now is being that good in qualifying is going into the warmer sessions (Saturday) it is going to give us the opportunity to try some things we need to try,” Lucas said. “That way we can try to go down the track four times on Sunday. I have a hard time imagining that we will run quicker than that (3.772) (Saturday), but if the conditions are right I know we will try to.”
Being fourth in the points behind the DSR stable of Spencer Massey, Tony Schumacher and Antron Brown also isn’t lost on Lucas.
“It is weird because I think people because of years past have counted us out a little bit,” Lucas said. “I’m not saying we have something figured out, but I feel like we are closer to being to that point than we were in the past, so maybe we are the darkhorse (in this championship race). It is nice to actually put a little parity in there. I’m sure the fans like to see it. John Force built one H*ll of a fan base when he was winning every race he went to, but at some point you kind of get fans who root against you just because they want to see somebody else win. Maybe we will get to be those guys and maybe it our season to at least challenge these guys at the end of the year.”
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