PHOENIX – Top Fuel racer Morgan Lucas was never more happy about having to use the parachute lever on his GEICO/Lucas Oil dragster than he was Saturday afternoon at when he finally made a run that got him into the elimination field of the NHRA Arizona Nationals.
“We’ve had problems with spark plugs breaking during our runs which is a really random problem to have,” Lucas said. “We finally managed to get it downtrack today. It slowed down a little at the top end but we made it in.”
Lucas, who recorded a 3.820 at 319.22 mph on Saturday to qualify No. 12 for eliminations, is now confident that once the team solves the spark-plug issue his car will be as good as anyone else’s.
“There was a lot left in the car,” Lucas said. “Once we get the spark-plug problem figured out, we will be good to go.”
Lucas’ first-round opponent will be Clay Millican, who qualified No. 5 with a 3.810 at 323.66 mph.
“It should be a good race with Clay in the morning,” Lucas said. “I think we’re pretty evenly matched right now. Their car has been going down the track this weekend, so we’re going to have to be on our game. We just need to put up a number and keep picking away at the tune-up.
“I think if we can shave another two-hundredths (of a second) off of our e.t. like we did today, we’ll put ourselves in a good position.”
Lucas also expressed how proud he is of the way his team responded to Friday’s adversity.
“We knew we had to pick up a little bit of performance between Q3 and Q4,” Lucas said. “We didn’t want to be 14th after our last lap and run the risk of getting bumped out. We did that, and had we not shot the spark plug out, we could have been as high as 10th or 11th.
“We’re not in a bad place right now; we just have to keep taking steps forward.”
The NHRA Arizona Nationals will get under way at 11 a.m. PST on Sunday morning. ESPN2 will air the eliminations show Sunday night starting at 8 p.m. EST.