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May 18, 2014 - 08:10 AM
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2014 NHRA: Geico/Lucas Oil's Crampton Ready For First-Round Battle
Posted by: newsla on May 18, 2014 - 08:09 AM
2014 NHRA: Geico/Lucas Oil's Crampton Ready For First-Round Battle

Top Fuel driver Richie Crampton and the GEICO/Lucas Oil team are ready for the challenge of racing a world champion in the first round of the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals on Sunday at Atlanta Dragway.


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Crampton snared the No. 9 qualifying spot Saturday and will square off against defending NHRA Mello Yello champion Shawn Langdon in what promises to be a compelling first-round race.

"Racing the Al-Anabi team with one of the best drivers - the reigning world champion - in the driver's seat, we're going to have to be on point," Crampton said. "The car's going to have to run good, and I'm going to have to drive good. There's definitely some pressure there to do a better job on my end of things on the staring line.

"I've got every confidence in the world that this GEICO dragster can run just as good as any car out here, so it's going to he a heck of a race."

Crampton's qualifying pass was 3.803 seconds at 307.93 mph, just behind No. 8 qualifier Langdon, who had a top lap of 3.786 seconds at 324.44 mph.

"I don't think the true potential of this team is showing in qualifying," Crampton said. "We've had some bad luck, and subsequently we've got to race Shawn Langdon in round one tomorrow. That's going to be a heck of a race, and we'll be ready."

Crampton was able to make two good runs in qualifying, though the team only was able to take three qualifying attempts. The night session on Friday was canceled as Crampton sat in the staging lanes.
Antron Brown had a violent crash in Q2, and NHRA decided it was too late in the day to continue qualifying.

"Obviously, Q2 would have been a good time for us to step up in the field a little ways," Crampton said. "That was a night run, and we won't be competing in night-time conditions tomorrow, so it wasn't make-or-break on data for us. It was just a better opportunity to qualify a little better.

"We understand completely why we didn't get an opportunity to run, and I'm glad Antron got out OK, and Mother Nature made it too cold for us to get our shot. That's how it works sometimes."

Crampton had made a pass of 3.819 seconds at 309.06 mph in Q1 and hoped to improve on that in Q2.

"We're making some headway with the GEICO car," Crampton said. "That 3.81 in Q1 was a good start to the weekend. We were pretty happy after that."

Crampton's official qualifying run could have been faster, for he had incremental times among the best cars in Q3 before the spark plug problem.

"We didn't get to run in Q2 in what probably was the optimum race track, but nonetheless," Crampton said, "we came out in Q3, and it appeared like we were going to run a .76 or .77 until it shot a spark plug out and dropped some cylinders."

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