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Jun 02, 2014 - 06:47 AM
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2014 NHRA: Full-Time Effort Gives Part-Timer Lucas Another Semifinal Finish
Posted by: newsla on Jun 02, 2014 - 06:45 AM
2014 NHRA: Full-Time Effort Gives Part-Timer Lucas Another Semifinal Finish

Morgan Lucas is making a habit of taking the Lucas Oil/GEICO Top Fuel dragster to the semifinals.

Lucas is racing a part-time schedule in 2014, but that hasn't slowed him down. He raced to the semifinals of the 45th annual Toyota NHRA Summernationals on Sunday at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park before falling to Doug Kalitta.


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That's the second semifinal in as many races for Lucas this season, following his similar finish in Gainesville, Fla., earlier this year.

"With a part-time car, anything you get is a bonus, especially on race day," Lucas said. "To only run two races so far this year and reach the final four in both events, that's special. I can't think of too many part-time teams that can pull that off. It shows people we're here and we're serious contenders with the primary car. Believe me, people notice that stuff."

Lucas' Morgan Lucas Racing teammate Richie Crampton took the GEICO/Lucas Oil dragster to the final round. Both cars were tuned by Aaron Brooks, Crampton's full-time crew chief.

"I'm so impressed with the total team effort I've witnessed this weekend," Lucas said. "I'm so impressed with the mental strength of Aaron Brooks, tuning two cars to such great results. We changed our philosophy a bit with an emphasis on getting the cars down the track every time, and the guys have really stepped up. I'm enjoying seeing the laundry (parachutes) come out every round.

"Hopefully, as the year progresses we can be helpful teammates to Richie and the GEICO team."

Lucas carried pictures of his young son Hunter in his firesuit this weekend, and images of Hunter were shown during the ESPN2 broadcast.

"The wife (Katie) and I are so proud of that little guy," Lucas said. "We're going to have to make copies of the show and squirrel them away somewhere safe so we can pull them out 20 years from now and show him. He's the center of our lives and it's neat that ESPN2 wanted to give him a little airtime."

The No. 13 qualifier, Lucas took down No. 4 qualifier Steve Torrence in the first round with a pass of 3.834 seconds at 276.52 mph. Lucas was off the line first with a .068-second reaction time and never trailed as Torrence lost traction and made a run of 5.438 seconds at 124.48 mph.

That put Lucas against No. 5 qualifier Brittany Force, and he was again up to the task. His run of 3.846 seconds at 311.99 mph after a .061 light took down Force's 4.107-second pass at 253.18 mph.

"The old dog still has a little bite," Lucas said of his lights. "When you drive these things there's so much that comes with it as far as the business side that you reach a point where you can't contribute much to the mechanical side of things. That puts a premium on driving well and I take a lot of pride in doing my job."

But against No. 1 qualifier Kalitta, Lucas smoked the tires at the hit and couldn't recover. Kalitta pedaled and ran a lap of 4.375 seconds at 249.12 mph, overcoming Lucas' run of 6.032 seconds at 139.07 mph.

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