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Aug 17, 2014 - 06:38 AM
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2014 NHRA: Geico/Lucas Oil Rookie Crampton Has Sights Set On Brainerd Glory
Posted by: newsla on Aug 17, 2014 - 06:34 AM
2014 NHRA: Geico/Lucas Oil Rookie Crampton Has Sights Set On Brainerd Glory

Leading rookie-of-the-year candidate Richie Crampton already has experienced the joys of winning an NHRA national event, having earned the hardware in Englishtown, N.J. Now the Australian-born pro is hoping to cross off the next item on his to-do list, which is qualifying for the Countdown to the Championship.


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After slotting a lofty fourth on the grid at this weekend's 33rd annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, Crampton knows he can take the final step towards achieving that goal with a big Sunday at Brainerd International Raceway.

"Putting the GEICO/Lucas Oil dragster into the playoffs will be a huge accomplishment for a team with a rookie driver," said Crampton, who served as a crewman under team owner Morgan Lucas for seven years before slipping behind the wheel of the 10,000 horsepower Top Fuel rail. "Going rounds tomorrow could seal the deal, I believe, so this will definitely be the biggest race day of my career so far.

"With this being Lucas Oil's biggest race and having Morgan here in the second car racing against one of the guy's that's chasing us in the points, it seems everything is lined up perfectly. But we still need to go out there and execute."

Unofficially, Crampton will clinch his spot on the 10-car playoff grid if he simply out performs Bob Vandergriff Sunday. Vandergriff faces Lucas in Round 1 and if he wins that race could square off against Crampton in the quarterfinals should Crampton advance past first-round foe Steve Torrence.

Crampton will have lane choice against Torrence as his qualifying numbers of 3.820 seconds at 320.97 mph are considerably better than Torrence's 3.904 at 303.16 mph. Conversely, Vandergriff (3.835 at 318.84 mph) will have lane choice over Lucas (3.883 at 286.98 mph).

"We could have two chances at Bob tomorrow," Crampton said. "Really, what we need to do is focus on our cars and getting the most out of them. If we do that, the rest of this stuff will fall into place. I'm excited about it all, honestly. It's so much fun to be in this position.

"Aaron Brooks and the guys know what to do. They know better than anyone what's at stake here. It would be great to earn a spot in the Countdown here but if not we have another chance to sew it up for good in Indy."

Qualifying action from BIR will air at 10 p.m. CT, Saturday, on ESPN2. Top Fuel eliminations begin at 11 a.m., Sunday, with ESPN2 airing all the action in tape-delay beginning at 8 p.m. CT.

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