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Sep 01, 2014 - 07:21 AM
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2014 NHRA: Rookie-Of-The-Year Front-Runner Crampton Says Great Weekend Can Get Even Better
Posted by: newsla on Sep 01, 2014 - 07:19 AM
2014 NHRA: Rookie-Of-The-Year Front-Runner Crampton Says Great Weekend Can Get Even Better

Just having a good showing in his first-ever U.S. Nationals would be reward enough for rookie Top Fuel driver Richie Crampton, of Adelaide, Australia. But now that the driver of the powerful GEICO/Lucas Oil Top Fuel dragster already has a runner-up finish in the one-off Traxxas Shootout and a top-four qualifying effort of 3.772 seconds at 324.20 mph, the new father is starting to dream a little bigger.


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"This weekend is huge on so many levels," said Crampton, who served as a crewmember for seven years before being handed the keys to the 10,000-horsepower dragster. "It's a big milestone for me as a rookie driver just to compete at the U.S. Nationals. It's something I dreamed about as a kid back in Australia, so to get here and to be driving a really good hot rod for GEICO and Lucas Oil and Toyota, it's hard to describe.

"Winning Englishtown (N.J.) earlier this year and qualifying for the Traxxas Shootout was another big deal because that race is run during the U.S. Nationals weekend. Just to be part of it was such an honor. Then we go out there and beat Antron Brown and Shawn Langdon, two of the best in the world, and even give Tony Schumacher a good run in the final before finishing as runner-up. I just don't think I could've scripted it any better for my first appearance at Indianapolis."

Aside from Crampton's run of record, he posted three more 3.79-second runs during qualifying, showing incredible consistency for a nitro-powered car despite a variety of weather conditions.

"The GEICO Top Fuel team is doing a fantastic job," Crampton said. "We've got a fresh race car we just brought out and it's responding well and running really good out there. Whether it's a cold track, hot track, it seems to respond well and that makes me very confident going into race day."

His first obstacle Monday morning will be part-timer Billy Torrence, who qualified 13th with a 3.806 at 323.66 mph.

"Even though we've strung together a lot of great runs in qualifying and picked up some bonus points, we're not going to take anyone lightly tomorrow, starting with Billy Torrence," Crampton said. "Looking at the way everyone has been driving -- everyone has been up on the wheel and desperate to win this race, just like we are -- I know it's going to be a tough race day no matter who we face.

"It helps to get a lot of good runs in the bank as far as the data is concerned, but that doesn't mean it's always going to apply well to race day. We'll take every round one by one, and we're racing the best guys in the world in the Mello Yello Series. We need to keep pushing forward.

"It's been a great weekend already, but we can make it even better."

Eliminations begin at 11 a.m., ET. ESPN2 will carry all the action.

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