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Jul 23, 2014 - 06:58 AM
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2014 NHRA: Leading Rookie Contender Crampton Confident About First Sonoma Race
Posted by: newsla on Jul 23, 2014 - 06:57 AM
2014 NHRA: Leading Rookie Contender Crampton Confident About First Sonoma Race

GEICO/Lucas Oil Top Fuel dragster driver Richie Crampton hopes to pad his rookie resume during the NHRA Sonoma Nationals this weekend at Sonoma Raceway.


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Crampton, a 34-year-old from Adelaide, Australia, is the leading contender for the NHRA rookie-of-the-year award. He sits 10th in the Top Fuel points standings with four races left before the Countdown to the Championship, which features the top 10 drivers.

Crampton is the only rookie to win in 2014, as he stormed to victory lane in Englishtown, N.J., earlier this season. He's also raced to one semifinal and four quarterfinals with 10 round-wins this year.

"Winning the rookie award was one of the goals this season, but there's still plenty of work left to accomplish that," Crampton said. "There are a lot of talented rookies this year, and I just want to try to improve every week. The rewards will take care of themselves."

Crampton enters the Sonoma race after reaching the second round in Denver, a troublesome race for many Top Fuel teams. The thin mile-high air forces teams to drastically alter tune-ups on their cars, but the Sonoma race brings Top Fuel back to sea level and some normalcy.

"My confidence is pretty high going into Sonoma," Crampton said. "We get back to some sea-level conditions and that's really where we like to run. That's where we do the best.

"I'm excited for Sonoma. We won't really make any changes, but everything will just be back to normal conditions, so to speak."

Like every track this season, Crampton will be driving in Sonoma for the first time, but he served as a Morgan Lucas Racing crewman that helped get Morgan Lucas to the final round in 2013.

"Historically, Morgan Lucas Racing does well in Sonoma," Crampton said. "So I think we have a pretty good shot at it when we get out there."

Top Fuel qualifying sessions are scheduled for 5 and 7 p.m., Friday, and 1:30 and 4 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations begin at 11 a.m., Sunday. ESPN2 will carry all qualifying and elimination action.

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