April 23, 2012The Thunder Road Show
Lucas' reconfigured team has him on a championship pace
HOUSTON (April 23) – Morgan Lucas and his GEICO/Lucas Oil Top Fuel dragster team have good reason to be excited about this weekend's O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries.
The top qualifier at three of the first four races of the year, Lucas has raced to the semifinals or better at all but one race. He also recorded a win in Gainesville, Fla.
"We don't have as many laps as a lot of the other teams out here," Lucas said. "We're a new team, in the sense of the structure of the way the team is and who is involved now. We're building this data and building information.
"What I think is going to be cool is as long as we can stay in the top 10, top five, when we get to the Countdown, we're going to have a lot of good runs in the books, and it's going to contribute to chasing the championship at the end of the year."
After an early season filled the kind of ideal conditions that make a Top Fuel motor produce tons of power, the scene is starting to shift to the kind of hot, slick conditions that can drive a crew chief crazy.
"When you go to somewhere like Houston, you know it's a good, flat track," Lucas said. "If the weather's right, it can be a really fast race track, but you can't always hope the weather's going to be good."
Lucas said the team has learned its lesson to not be too aggressive during the early qualifying sessions.
"I think we'll have a good starting point," Lucas said. "We've realized we need to go out in the first lap and go down the track, A to B, and then start working forward from there. Every run where you smoke the tires early is just a run lost.
"The team really learned a lot from Charlotte when we lost in the first round and we will be able to progress toward the future and have a better game plan and a better overall approach now."
The setback in Charlotte knocked Lucas out of second and into fourth place in the season standings. But he said there's still plenty of time before the start of the Countdown for the GEICO crew to make points back up.
"I wouldn't want to race anywhere else than with this GEICO team," Lucas said. "I feel like they've given me a good car and a good reason to work my butt off and try to be the best driver I can be. Whenever you have something like that, it's a good team. It makes for a good combination, and we've got to keep working together as a group."
Qualifying for the O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries gets under way at 2:30 p.m. CDT, Friday. Two more qualifying sessions will be run starting Saturday at 11:30 a.m. with eliminations starting at 11 a.m. on Sunday. ESPN2 will air the qualifying show at 6 p.m. EDT on Saturday and the elimination show at 7 p.m. on Sunday.