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Morgan ready for a brighter day during Four-Wide eliminations


CHARLOTTE, N.C. (April 12) - Larry Morgan and the Lucas Oil Ford Pro Stock team are glad the first two days of the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals are in the books.

Despite a myriad of problems, Morgan qualified No. 16 for the unique Four-Wide race, giving the veteran a fighting chance in eliminations.

"I'd say, 'What else could go wrong?' but I'm worried about finding out," Morgan said. "Hey, we're in the show, and we'll go out and try to kick their butts tomorrow."

The problems began after the first qualifying session on Friday, during which he shook the tires. Morgan returned to his pit area to service the engine in the car of Justin Humphreys, who is driving a Larry Morgan Racing car this weekend.

"Having two cars here, we were out of our normal procedures," Morgan said. "It took me a little longer to go through our valve lash on my motor. Justin's car was good, but when I started on my motor, we saw a valve spring laying there, a lifter laying there, and a valve guide was broken."

Because that was 45 minutes before Q2 was scheduled to begin, Morgan was forced to miss the session, only the second time in his long career mechanical problems caused him to skip a qualifying round.

Morgan then took the cylinder head to a past crewmember on his team who lives nearby, but when checking the valve springs Saturday morning, Morgan detected another problem: A piston ring was stuck inside the block, so that engine was useless.

Another engine was installed in Morgan's car, but there was an issue with that one, too, so Morgan and his team then had to pull an engine from a car another driver was supposed to use to gain his Pro Stock license later this year, but the motor plate on that engine didn't work, so Morgan was forced to skip Q3.

Finally, Morgan made a full run in Q4, 7.142 seconds at 196.30 mph, but the team discovered a spark-plug wire was off the engine during the run.

To make matters worse, Humphrey's engine failed during his final qualifying pass, meaning Morgan has to repair another engine to replace it.

"It's just been crazy," Morgan said. "I sure hope all our problems are over and we can do well for Lucas Oil and all those guys tomorrow. We'll be all right."

Due to local noise ordinances, Sunday's eliminations begin at noon ET. ESPN2 will carry the action in tape delay beginning at 8 p.m., Sunday.