Brainerd, Minnesota (August 20, 2016) - Morgan Lucas would love to have qualified his Protect The Harvest/Lucas Oil dragster higher up the Top Fuel chart for the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals this week at Brainerd International Raceway, but he knows from experience that he can win from anywhere, especially here.
In 2014, Lucas struggled through qualifying and started race day from the No. 12 position. He went on to win the race for the third time, beating Doug Kalitta in a pedalfest in the final.
"It's the Lucas Oil Nationals," Lucas said. "When we won here in 2014 we didn't really make a good run at all in qualifying and somehow managed to pull it off. Hopefully, we can string together some good runs tomorrow and keep our fingers crossed for a good outcome."
Lucas saved his best for last in qualifying this time, making a pass of 3.739 seconds at 325.77 mph to snare the No. 11 spot.
"We had a rough weekend in qualifying, to start at least," Lucas said. "It showed a lot of promise in Q4, which is definitely a better situation going into race day, knowing we have that under our belt. Quirky issues were causing problems and repeating themselves. We finally resolved it."
Lucas begins Sunday eliminations against No. 6 qualifier Kalitta, who made a best pass of 3.704 seconds at 331.30 mph.
"We've got a tough matchup against Doug Kalitta," Lucas said. "Those guys can outrun anybody and any point in time, so we just have to keep our wits about us and make sure we go to the starting line with a good, competitive race car."
Lucas' Morgan Lucas Racing team is gunning for its third consecutive victory at this event. Lucas won in 2014, and teammate Richie Crampton won last year on a record-setting day. Cooler temperatures should mean quicker elapsed times again.
"Cooler air is going to make for a really good show for the fans," Lucas said. "To me, at the end of the day, that's the most important thing."
Top Fuel eliminations start at 11 a.m. CT, Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will join eliminations live and broadcast all the action from 1 to 4 p.m.