Crampton runs second quickest pass in history of Top Fuel

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Earning the No. 1 qualifying position for the NHRA Finals on Saturday was a fitting cap to an astounding rookie season for GEICO/Lucas Oil driver Richie Crampton.


In his first season in Top Fuel, Crampton has won two races, including the U.S. Nationals, and reached the Countdown to the Championship. Until Saturday, though, a No. 1 qualifier had eluded him. But after nearly making the quickest pass in Top Fuel history, Crampton now has one.

“It feels great,” Crampton said. “We’ve been so close to being No. 1 a few other races this season, so it’s an awesome feeling to put that on the list of my accomplishments this year. Obviously, it’s been an amazing year.”

Crampton’s pass of 3.711 seconds at 316.30 mph set a Pomona track record for elapsed time and it also marked the second-quickest run in the history of the class.

“(Crew chief) Aaron Brooks and the GEICO team threw everything they had at it and it stuck,” Crampton said. “It didn’t quite make it to the finish line, only running 316 for speed, so I think there might have been a little more in it. But nonetheless we’ll take it.”

Crampton watched as Morgan Lucas Racing teammate Morgan Lucas made a pass of 3.738 at 323.35 mph a few pairs ahead of him, knowing Brooks had a similar tune-up in his car.

“Everyone knows what Aaron can do with two good race cars,” Crampton said. “I knew if our car would make it past the Christmas tree, that it would probably be on a mission. I was definitely hanging on and ready for it. It was a heck of a ride.”

Even at that speed, Crampton allowed himself to glance at the scoreboard to see the number.

“It did surprise me that we ran that fast,” Crampton said. “I was looking up at the scoreboard as we were going through the lights, which I probably shouldn’t have been. It nosed over and slowed up right before the finish line, and I peeked up and saw the 3.71.

“It was almost like when I won Indy across the finish line. I was pretty pumped. I was clapping my hands and was pretty excited that we put that number up on the scoreboard.”

Crampton will face No. 16 qualifier Troy Buff in the first round of eliminations Sunday. Buff had a top lap of 3.834 seconds at 313.00 mph.

The NHRA Road to the Future Award, going to the sport’s top rookie, will be handed out Monday might at the NHRA Awards Ceremony, and Crampton is the leading candidate.

“I’m probably the most spoiled rookie in NHRA,” Crampton said. “I get to drive such great equipment for one of the best teams out here. It’s all the team, this great race car, and the great sponsors we have, GEICO, Lucas Oil, and Toyota. I’m the lucky guy who gets to drive it in my first season.

“I’ve got a lot to learn and a long way to go, but I’m trying hard and having a great time.”

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