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Defending Indy champ Morgan Lucas sidelined early at this year's U.S . Nationals

Indianapolis, Indiana (September 5, 2016) - A year ago, ProtectTheHarvest.com/Lucas Oil driver Morgan Lucas was on top of the drag racing world having won the sport's most coveted trophy at the annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals. Unfortunately, any thoughts of a repeat performance came to a quick end Monday morning when Lucas' dragster lost traction mid-track, which allowed opponent JR Todd to streak away for the win.

"I've never won back-to-back races here at home," Lucas said. "It just is what it is. We just picked a really crappy time to have our first tire smoker of the weekend. But hey, the driver was only .71 on the Tree, so I definitely missed the Tree a little bit, and then we went out there and the clutch tried to weld and it smoked the tires.

"JR had a great light and an overall amazing lap. They were ready to show up and apparently we weren't and it is what it is. It's just drag racing. Obviously as a part-time team we don't have a ton of laps and it just kinda ended up catching up to us a little bit today."

Todd was certainly up for the race, leaving with a great .053-second reaction time to take an early lead. Lucas was chasing him down, but once he smoked the tires the race was over, with Todd blistering the track to the tune of 3.718 seconds at 326.56 mph. That was just too stout for Lucas' 4.373 at 181.64 mph.

"We're fine," Lucas said. "We've had a lot of fun this weekend and we didn't tear up a ton of stuff. We are leaving here, financially, in a much better situation than we did last year even though last year we won the race. We're just in a different spot and I'm seeing things as team owner from a different perspective.

"I guess we need to regroup as a team. We have Vegas and Pomona at the end of the year, and hopefully we can get this thing turned around by then. In the meantime we'll do all we can to help Richie (Crampton, teammate) win some races and challenge for the title."

FOX Sports 1 is airing the early part of Monday's eliminations live from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Live TV coverage will then shift to the main FOX Network with action from 1 to 4 p.m. (All times listed in ET).

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