07/09/18 — DRAG RACING: Lucas wins Modified E/T Triple Crown Challenge

View Archive

DRAG RACING: Lucas wins Modified E/T Triple Crown Challenge

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on July 9, 2018 5:51 AM



The scoreboards in the distance flashed their reaction times from the trials.

A mere .09 seconds separated Steve Lucas and Mark Pittman, who had been on point in their respective cars during the third -- and final -- Modified E/T Triple Crown Challenge race at Nahunta Dragway.

And, to no one's surprise, they produced a photo finish in the wee hours Sunday morning.

Backed by an unusually cool summer breeze, the two drivers turned onto the rubber-ladened 1/8-mile track with Lucas in the left lane and Pittman in the right. They backed up to wet their back tires, did a short burnout and prepared for their head-to-head battle.

Lucas engaged the pre-staged lights on the Christmas tree.

Pittman tapped the gas pedal and joined him.

Lucas inched slightly forward to awaken the stage lights.

Pittman followed suit.

They revved their engines as the clock counted down.





Seconds later, Lucas crossed the line and claimed the Challenge race -- his second in as many weeks. The Princeton driver pocketed $2,200, including a bonus prize for winning two of the three Challenge races.

"[Pittman] is a good competitor, tough...has won a bunch, too," Lucas said. "I knew I was going to have to be on my 'A' game and I came through, had my best light there in the finals. I had three tight runs at the end that were less than a foot [apart at the finish line.]

"I've had a good day. The car has been deadly."

A total of 44 drivers competed in the Challenge, which took seven rounds and six-plus hours to determine a winner.

They dueled in pairs to get their best reaction time on the night.

Once those two trials had been completed, they returned for the elimination portion. Drivers were allowed to 'buy back' a round if they lost and some took advantage of the opportunity. However, they could not continue after a third defeat.

Most of the buy backs took place after the first elimination.

The field slowly dwindled.

Lucas and Pittman remained strong all night. Neither lost a race.

It was especially sweet for Lucas, who replaced the motor in 79 Chevy Malibu a month ago.

"I blew it up," Lucas said. "Last week was the first week I ran it and won. This week, I came back and won again. I'm going to leave the motor just like it is. I'm not touching nothing."

Pittman, a former champ at Brewer's Speedway, earned the bye run for the three-car semifinals. Lucas knocked out Smithfield's Jason Stowe to set up a meeting against Pittman.

Did Lucas anticipate a repeat?

"No," he said. "As tough as the competitors are out here, it's just tough to win one. To win two in a row, it's unbelievable."