Lucas Makes Reading Field With Last-gasp Effort, Stoffer Mid-pack - 10/9/2010
Rob Geiger - Geiger Media

READING, Pa. (Oct. 9) – Showing a flair for the dramatic, Morgan Lucas got the GEICO Powersports/Lucas Oil Top Fuel dragster into the field on his final qualifying pass Saturday to make the cut for Sunday's eliminations at the 26th annual Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway.

The GEICO Powersports team is in a transition phase after the dismissal of crew chief Jimmy Walsh following the Dallas race. No permanent replacement has been hired as of yet, so Lucas is tuning by committee this weekend.

"I think a bunch of us came here not knowing what to do but we got some good advice from John Stewart, the crew chief of my teammate Shawn Langdon's car, and got a lot of help from those guys as the weekend's gone along," Lucas said. "Plus, Jimmy had taken great notes from past races here and that all helped."

After smoking his tires the first three passes, he put down a 3.915 second pass at 312.06 mph to make the show in the No. 14 spot. He faces third qualifier Tony Schumacher in the first round of eliminations on Sunday.

"It took us a few passes to figure out how to put it all together but we finally did in Round 4," Lucas said "It probably would have been better but I felt a little shudder and slapped (the throttle) real quick. I probably didn’t need to do that in hindsight but it was just instinct. The bottom line is we're in and all the GEICO execs that are visiting this weekend got to see us handle the pressure."

Karen Stoffer had a less stressful path on the GEICO Powersports Suzuki as her ride was pretty consistent during qualifying and she landed in the No. 9 spot in the field with a best pass of 6.912 seconds at 190.97 mph.

"We got the bike back to the way to was earlier in the year," Stoffer said. "We've made some great passes this weekend and, aside from a few little mechanical issues that came up in Round 4, we're happy with everything.

"For whatever reason this track has always been favorable to the women racers and I sure hope that continues tomorrow. It's exciting to go into eliminations after a real solid qualifying session like we've had the last two days. We're not going into Sunday blind. We know what we're doing with the bike."

Stoffer draws No. 8 qualifier LE Tonglet, winner of the last three races. His best qualifying pass was a 6.907 at 191.76 mph.

Eliminations for the Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals begin at 11 a.m. EDT from Maple Grave Raceway.

Stoffer went on to extend special thanks to all of the 2010 sponsors and supporters.
Geico Powersports 1-800-442-9253, Speed Dawg, Bates Leathers, Suzuki Extended Protection, KYMCOUSA, NGK, Airtech, Red Line Oil, American Racing Products, Mechanix Wear Gloves, and TKO Graphics.