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2014 NHRA: New Body, Fast Car Has Crampton Confident For Eliminations
Posted by: newsla on Apr 27, 2014 - 08:57 AM
2014 NHRA: New Body, Fast Car Has Crampton Confident For Eliminations

GEICO/Lucas Oil driver Richie Crampton hasn't lost any confidence in his Morgan Lucas Racing team despite not being able to hold on to his provisional No. 1 after the second qualifying session of the O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA SpringNationals on Friday.


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Crampton ended up No. 9 after a topsy-turvy Saturday and will square off against defending rookie-of-the-year Brittany Force in the first round of eliminations Sunday.

"We were hoping to stay No. 1 after running so good Friday night," Crampton said. "The weather came around and made it good for everyone to try and step it up and they did. That just goes to show how tough Top Fuel is right now.

"We didn't have the best day today but we'll keep our heads high, and I think we'll have a good race car for tomorrow. I'm pretty excited to go racing."

Crampton was No. 1 after Q2 with a pass of 3.807 seconds at 322.11 mph, so for the first time in his young career the rookie was atop the Top Fuel class overnight.

But Saturday's Q3 brought cooler conditions under cloudy skies and the dragsters were fast. Crampton had problems in his two runs, and by the time qualifying was over he ended up ninth.

"This weekend has been a big curveball for the crew chiefs out here," Crampton said. "Traditionally, this racetrack is hot and kind of hard to negotiate. A lot of crew chiefs come in here with that in mind, but they were pleasantly surprised Friday night when the weather changed and made everyone's thought process change, too."

Crew chief Aaron Brooks had a good tune-up for Q3, as Crampton was on a quick pass until the engine dropped a cylinder and things quickly went sour just short of the finish line.

"It broke a belt and coincidentally ripped a body panel off," Crampton said, "so it was a little bit of a catastrophic run for us. That stuff generally doesn't happen."

Then in Q4, Crampton smoked the tires as track conditions worsened with warmer temperatures.

Still, Crampton remains confident in his newly rebodied car; the MLR team reskinned the chassis with yellow body panels from Morgan Lucas' 2013 car. Crampton will battle Force, whom he beat in the first round in Pomona. Force qualified No. 8 with a run of 3.801 seconds at 325.30 mph.

"We're going to be running the old, yellow GEICO body tomorrow," Crampton said. "It's a cool-looking race car as well, so we'll be looking to go to the winner's circle. This body has been there before, so it knows its way to get there."

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