GEICO Powersports teammates Morgan Lucas and Karen Stoffer both exited the 26th annual Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway Sunday in the first round of eliminations. Lucas was beaten by seven-time and reigning series champion Tony Schumacher, while Stoffer red-lighted against red-hot rider L.E. Tonglet.
There’s no question Lucas was mentally prepared for his first-round match-up with Schumacher. When the tree came down, he reacted with a better-than average .062-second launch to Schumacher’s sluggish .096-second start. Unfortunately, the GEICO Powersports/Lucas Oil dragster was soon lost in a cloud of tire smoke and Schumacher was able to steam by for a 3.835-second, 317.57-mph victory.
“We tried to put a number up there and it just didn’t stick,” said Lucas, who coasted across in 5.190 seconds at 144.91 mph. “We’ve got a couple of weeks off now to get ready for Vegas so we can evaluate everything and figure out the long-range plans for the team. We’re looking at getting a running start on next year, at this point, so we’ll use the final two events to race hard and have some fun.”
Stoffer knew she had a tough opponent in Tonglet, who has won the last three races in a row, and perhaps that played into her leaving the starting line -.015 seconds before the green light, an automatic disqualification. Even without the red light, Tonglet posted a 6.860 at 193.02 mph, a pass that was .05 seconds quicker than anything Stoffer ran all weekend.
“You hate to lose on a red light,” Stoffer said. “He put up a great number, no doubt, but it would have been a close race. We had our best 60-foot time of the weekend that pass and that always contributes to the lights.
“It’s hard to open against the hottest rider in the class but they’re all tough at this level. It doesn’t matter who you race. We’ll load, up, head out west to our part of the world, and try again in Las Vegas.”
ESPN will carry Sunday’s race in the evening hours.