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To defending champion Morgan Lucas, U.S. Nationals 'feels big, feels special'

Indianapolis, Indiana (August 30, 2016) - The Indianapolis 500 is widely considered to be one of the most prestigious races in the world, if not the most prestigious race.

For ProtectTheHarvest.com/Lucas Oil Top Fuel dragster driver Morgan Lucas, the U.S. Nationals is equal to the Indy 500, and he's the defending champion of the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, held this weekend at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis.

"I've been going to the U.S. Nationals since 1996, and I know for some people that's not that long, but I was 11, 12 years old then," the 32-year-old Lucas said. "Knowing the history and knowing my name is on the same list with some of the best who have ever been involved in the sport is incredible.

"It's just Indy. It just feels big, feels special, and so many fans show up. I equate it to winning the Indy 500, even though I know there are a lot of people who might argue with me, but in my mind, it is."

Lucas added his name to the list of U.S. Nationals winners -- alongside legends like Don Garlits, Don Prudhomme, Kenny Bernstein, Connie Kalitta, Shirley Muldowney, and others -- by storming to victory in 2015.

He beat Leah Pritchett, Morgan Lucas Racing teammate Richie Crampton, Brittany Force, and Dave Connolly to win the U.S. Nationals for the first time. Lucas' win also made it two in a row at Indy for MLR, as Crampton won the race in 2014.

Lucas had plenty of family and friends in attendance, from parents Forrest and Charlotte Lucas to wife Katie Lucas to son Hunter Lucas. Spending time with them after the race are the memories Lucas will cherish.

"There are two things that stand out for me. First, having my family there and then having one of my best friend's father (Terry Fischle) with us," Lucas said. "He's a cancer survivor and had never been to Indy before. He was helping us out with the team, and then he got to be there for the win. A pretty special moment all the way around for my family and for someone I consider extended family."

The Indy win also extended Lucas' personal streak of winning at least one race each season to five years in a row. He has been able to stay sharp behind the wheel despite racing a part-time schedule.

"Richie Crampton and Jason Rush out of our shop fabricated a practice Tree, so I'll get in there and hit the Tree when I'm at the shop," Lucas said. "I still try to work out to keep my weight in check. I think it's like anything else: If you want to do it bad enough, you get in and do the best you can."

Top Fuel qualifying sessions are scheduled for 8 p.m., Friday; 4:15 and 7:30 p.m., Saturday; and 12:45 and 4:55 p.m., Sunday. Eliminations start at 11 a.m., Monday. FOX Sports 1 will air qualifying action from noon to 2 p.m. and 5 to 7 p.m., Sunday. Eliminations will air live Monday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on FOX Sports 1 and from 1 to 4 p.m. on FOX. (All TV times listed in ET).

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