During Morgan Lucas' renaissance 2012 Top Fuel season, the only thing that has been able to slow down the GEICO/Lucas Oil dragster team has been themselves.
After a first-round victory over Bruce Litton at Sunday's Toyota NHRA SuperNationals, Lucas stumbled in his matchup against Clay Millican, when the GEICO rail lost a cylinder at the hit of the throttle and smoked and sputtered as Millican sped away.
"We probably led the first few feet of that run," Lucas said. "We just don't know why we're losing holes like that. It's just happening randomly. We know how to make power; we know how to make it go fast."
Lucas did enjoy a .04-second advantage in reaction time, but the engine issue took over from there as Millican sped to a less-than-perfect lap of 4.508 seconds at 234.37 mph, while Lucas ran a 5.039 at 191.40 mph.
"Our crew chief Aaron Brooks is a brilliant guy and he's going to get the cylinder problem fixed," Lucas said. "He's got his mind made up, so it's not going to be a problem much longer.
"You go up there anticipating the car doing one thing and it goes wrong, it just kills you."
The day started with plenty of promise in what unfolded as a strange race against Bruce Litton, driver of the Lucas Slick Mist dragster.
Both cars started their prerace burnouts like normal but Litton's clutch linkage broke, so instead of stopping and backing up to the starting line, Litton's car just kept rolling forward on down the track.
With Litton out of the picture, Lucas had a free pass into the second round. The GEICO team did not get conservative at the last minute as Lucas put down a 3.770-second pass at 326.40 mph, the quickest and fastest lap of the first round of eliminations.
"We had a strong run at the beginning of the year," Lucas said. "I don't think you can call what we're going through right now a slump, but we're not quite where we need to be, which is in the winner's circle."
The GEICO team's next chance for victory is the June 15-17 Thunder Valley NHRA Nationals at Bristol, Tenn.