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2014 NHRA: GEICO/Lucas Oil Racer Crampton Treasures Competing At Drag Racing's 'Hallowed Ground'
Posted by: newsla on Aug 26, 2014 - 07:19 PM
2014 NHRA: GEICO/Lucas Oil Racer Crampton Treasures Competing At Drag Racing's 'Hallowed Ground'

GEICO/Lucas Oil Top Fuel dragster driver Richie Crampton grew up halfway around the world from Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis, but he knew all about the U.S. Nationals, so the 34-year-old from Adelaide, Australia, is as pumped up as anyone to be able to compete in the 60th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals this weekend.


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"I was absolutely fully aware of 'the Big Go' in Australia and what the U.S. Nationals means," Crampton said. "It's an historic, prestigious race and it's in our backyard. It's definitely a hometown race at Lucas Oil Raceway, and it's the biggest drag race of the year for NHRA.

"Even last year when I went to get my Top Fuel license, driving down that dragstrip in Indianapolis was like driving in hallowed ground. I got a lot of those feelings again when we were testing last week. It's very exciting and a pretty big deal to me to be able to compete at the U.S. Nationals in Indy."

Crampton drove Morgan Lucas' car during testing at Indy in 2013, earning his Top Fuel license. When Lucas decided to step away from driving full-time, Crampton was promoted from mechanic to driver of the Morgan Lucas Racing car.

Crampton has had a successful rookie season, winning a race and clinching a spot in the Countdown to the Championship. He's the leading contender for the NHRA rookie of the year award, but Crampton isn't satisfied.

He drove a new car from the MLR shops -- chassis No. 4 -- during testing last week, posting the second-quickest pass, 3.773 seconds at 324.36 mph.

"Coming off of a test session like we had, we're pretty confident going into the U.S. Nationals," Crampton said. "We broke out a brand-new race car that performed very well, so it appeared to be race-ready right out of the box. It responded well to everything that (crew chief) Aaron (Brooks) tried to do with it, and it drove great. We're looking forward to running this new race car at Indy and for the Countdown."

In addition to chasing a U.S. Nationals victory, Crampton's win in Englishtown, N.J., earlier this year has him entered in the NHRA Traxxas Nitro Shootout this weekend. Held during the event's second and third qualifying sessions Saturday, the Shootout includes eight Top Fuel drivers gunning for a first-place prize of $100,000.

"Qualifying is very exciting here because we need to qualify well and we're competing for $100,000 that Traxxas puts up," Crampton said. "We can't be too conservative during qualifying because we want to win that 100 grand. But we also are looking at the big picture, where we need to be making solid qualifying runs and getting down the track each of the five qualifying sessions.

"If it so happens we can go some rounds during the Traxxas Shootout during qualifying, that'll be a great weekend."

Crampton will also have his eye on the Top Fuel points standings, because he could move up a few spots with a good performance at Indy.

"We hope to peck our way up the order," Crampton said. "This is our last opportunity to get a better starting position for the Countdown. We're looking at that pretty hard and will try to make that happen."

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