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Morgan Lucas Racing is leaving the NHRA

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By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher

This weekend will be the final race for Morgan Lucas Racing. Morgan Lucas informed his team on Friday night at the Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.

MLR joins Bob Vandergriff Racing to cease operations this season. BVR cited the death of his close friend Josh Comstock — along with the oil and gas industry’s firm economic woes — as his reason to leave the sport.

Morgan Lucas Racing

Morgan Lucas Racing

Vandergriff was hinting that he would step away a year prior when he stepped out of the driver’s seat. He hired Dave Connelly and Leah Pritchett to run the two-car operation for a few months this season.

The decision to step away was a little different for Lucas. He is moving up within Lucas Oil, a company that his parents founded. In addition, his father, Forrest, could be appointed to a role in the President-Elect Donald Trump administration.

The older Lucas has served on an agriculture advisory committee for Trump. His name is being mentioned as the Secretary of the Interior.

“It’s been ten years of a lot of highs and lows,” Morgan Lucas said to Competition Plus. “A lot of successes and a lot of failures…. established a good team, a very competitive team at times. There are a lot of changing going on in my life and my father’s life, a lot of things happening within the company. It’s just time to move on from team ownership.”

Richie Crampton was the driver of the Top Fuel dragster since Lucas stepped away a few years ago. The team also had popular crew chief Aaron Brooks.

Performance was a factor, as well, according to Competition Plus. Crampton is currently sitting as the 10th place driver in the Countdown to the Championship, which was already clinched two weeks ago in Las Vegas by Antron Brown.

Crampton hasn’t made it out of the first-round the past three races. He made it to one final round all season at the Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals, where he lost to J.R. Todd on July 31.

He has a 14-23 round record on the year.

“On a 50/50 scale, that might have drawn a bit,” Lucas said. “I’m not going to say that didn’t influence a little bit. I’m not going to stay that was the basis for this. I think there were a lot of factors that went into this. Richie is an amazing driver, and Aaron is an amazing crew chief. It just wasn’t our year this year. When you have to make decisions like this, sometimes it’s convenient to make it on performance. Thee a lot of things that added into this decision.

“A big component is there are a lot of time demands. Sometimes something has to give. And for us, looking at the big picture, as much as it hurts and affects the people on this team, we have the confidence that the talent level of the people on this team [means] they will be able to land on their feet. We will do everything we can to help them make that transition.”

Lucas also admitted that it’s tough being a single-car operation in the National Hot Rod Association.

“We are a single-car team,” he said. “We are trying to compete against multi-car teams. One of the teams has eight cars. They get eight times the runs that we do every session. They have eight times the information, and it is hard to compete against something like that. It’s hard to find additional funding for our cars in this situation. I’m not faulting them, because they do an amazing job. But when you look at where the sport is, that money was coming out of my dad’s pocket to run both of these cars. That’s $3.5 million plus. That adds up. When I am trying to say is it all adds up. It’s not a 2D decision; it’s multi-dimensional.”

For the past two seasons, Morgan Lucas Racing has been sponsored by Lucas Oil. Previously, they were funded by Geico. When Morgan drove a second-car on certain dates, he had different sponsors in Lucas Oil TV or SIG Sauer, among others.

“We were spending way more money than we were getting advertising out of it,” Charlotte Lucas, the wife of Forrest and the mother of Morgan, said. “It was easily one of the toughest decisions I have had to deal with in my life. This is a tough and grueling decision. It’s something that has been ripping at my gut. I feel like I have lost six pounds in the last week. I have [loved] and will always love every member of this team. They have given me some of the best wins of my life and some of my best experiences in my life, outside of my family.

“I can’t thank Lucas Oil and all of the employees enough for all the things they have done to allow us the opportunity to do this… Geico, for the years they gave us to come out and compete… Mac Tools has been with us since Day One — phenomenal company and phenomenal products… Toyota and Andre Jackson have been like family to us. He’s just one of those guys always there to give a hug when times are good and bad. He’s just a really good person and a great ambassador for the brand.”

The team has 12 Top Fuel Wally’s and 11 from the Top Alcohol Dragster class in the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series. Crampton has seven of those wins. Besides Crampton and Lucas, the team also had Shawn Langdon, Melanie Troxel and Brandon Bernstein drive their cars.

“We love the sport of drag racing,” Lucas said. “Guys like me, because of my financial background, don’t get picked up to drive cars, especially on a part-time basis. So this might be my final hurrah behind the wheel. If it is, I hope it is a good one. If it’s not, I still have twenty-something trophies at home I can look at. I still have some memories of all those trophies.

“I can say we had a good ride… a good run, and we racked up a quite a few trophies. I’m proud of what we accomplished.”

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