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Lucas and his GEICO Top Fuel team are pumped up for Pomona

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POMONA, Calif. (Feb 11) - Testing is complete, the trucks are packed and headed West, and Morgan Lucas and the GEICO/Lucas Oil Top Fuel dragster team are ready to get the 2013 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season under way with a big victory this weekend at the O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals.

"We've won this race before but I feel like we've got some unfinished business there," Lucas said. "We made the semifinals there last year, which was good, but it would be nice to go a round or two further and really get the year off on the right foot."

Lucas said preseason preparation went well and the GEICO car is back to the form that saw it collect two wins and four No. 1 qualifiers in the first six races of 2012.

"Tested started sluggish," Lucas said. "But we found some things, and now the car is back to its normal performance level, running a best of 3.76 (seconds) with plenty of other runs where we had great incremental numbers. We made the headway we needed to make.

"We ran quicker in testing than we did last year, so that gives us a lot of confidence."

Since the test session, Lucas said the team left no stone unturned in getting ready for the first handful of races this year.

"We open the year with back-to-back races on the other side of the country," Lucas said. "So we spent a lot of time getting back in shape after testing, making sure our inventory levels are great, making sure the crew gets time off so they don't burn out in the first two weeks. The time you spend now is crucial because it goes a long way towards making sure you are able to live up to the expectations you set for yourself."

Expectations are high in the Morgan Lucas Racing camp. The two-car organization won four times overall last year, and Lucas is starting his second year with Aaron Brooks as crew chief. Everybody will be starting the year on the same page, which Lucas said should translate to success right off the truck.

"This off-season went by like the snap of my fingers," Lucas said. "We accomplished almost all of our goals last year. We want to get both our cars in the top five by the end of the season and put ourselves in position to chase the championship. It's easier said than done because there are a lot of great cars out there but we're up for the challenge.

"We've got all of our first-year growing pains out of the way on both our cars. The whole package is there now after getting a year to settle in. Now we have to start doing more, which is part of the goal for this season."

Qualifying for the O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals get under way at 2 p.m. PST on Thursday with a single session at Pomona. There will be another single session with the same start time on Friday. Two qualifying sessions are on tap for Saturday beginning at noon. Eliminations are Sunday with opening ceremonies at 10 a.m. and racing at 11 a.m. ESPN2 will air the qualifying show at 10 p.m. EST on Saturday and the eliminations show at 8 p.m. Sunday.