Lucas Oil's Morgan rides power of good breakfast to semifinal berth
BRAINERD, MN – After winning two rounds in Pro Stock driving the Lucas Oil Ford Mustang on Sunday at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, driver Larry Morgan really wished he had four helpings of hash browns at breakfast.
"I wasn't going to have any," Morgan said. "But when I was in line, somebody told me that when Melanie Troxel ate these cheesy hash browns that Matt (Krebs), the Lucas Oil hospitality chef makes, she always won rounds. So I grab the spoon and scoop out, 'One round, two rounds.'"
Morgan got to the semifinals in one of the most unorthodox ways in a while. The first round win was a hole shot victory over Vincent Nobile and the second round win came after a loss to Mark Martino.
Martino beat Morgan on the track, running a 6.587 second lap at 209.39 mph. Morgan crossed the finish line in 6.624 seconds at 209.30 mph.
"I was ready to go home," Morgan said. "We were in put it all away mode. Then an NHRA official comes up and tells us, we've got to get ready for another round."
Martino's car was too light after it went over the scales following the race, and his run was disqualified handing Morgan the victory and a semifinal matchup with eventual race winner Erica Enders.
"I was shocked, but the happiest guy on the property," Morgan said. "We went right to work and got our Mustang ready for the next round."
Morgan got off the line first against Enders in the semis, but she had too much car in the end. Enders finished in 6.561 seconds at 210.28 mph, while Morgan ran a 6.637 second lap at 208.23 mph.
In the first round Morgan used a .05 second advantage off the starting line to finish first against Nobile, despite Nobile having the quicker ET. Nobile's time was 6.584 seconds at 209.14 mph, while Morgan ran a 6.608 at 208.78 mph.
The DQ win over Martino proved to be huge in the ultra-tight battle for a spot in the Countdown to the Championship in Pro Stock. The second round win took him from 11th place to ninth place with the Top 10 moving into the playoffs after the Labor Day Weekend running of the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals.
Morgan is three points behind eighth place Shane Gray and 16 points ahead of 10th place V Gaines.
"That was a huge break for us," Morgan said. "I want to get into that Countdown so bad for Forrest and Charlotte Lucas. Where we are now lets us control our own destiny in Indy."
The U.S. Nationals run from Aug. 31-Sept. 3 from Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis.
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