GEICO/Lucas Oil Top Fuel dragster driver Richie Crampton experienced the highs and lows of NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing during the Circle K NHRA Winternationals in Pomona this morning.
The rookie savored a first-round victory over Brittany Force that was his first professional win but then suffered a second-round defeat to No. 1 qualifier Doug Kalitta.
Still, Crampton knows it’s early in his rookie year and believes Pomona was a good start to his career.
“It already hurts a little to lose but it is a second round of the year for us,” Crampton said. “We have done a lot better than a lot of the other teams in the pit area here already. Confidence will be high going to Phoenix and I really think we will do well there.”
Crampton did exceptionally well in the first round against No. 8 qualifier Force, the 2013 rookie of the year. He left first with a .065-second reaction time and then sped to a pass of 3.747 seconds at 322.88 mph to easily outrun Force’s slowing 4.617 at 279.50 mph.
“Winning the first round against Brittany Force was huge for my confidence and I think also the team’s confidence,” Crampton said. “It’s been a long time coming to get to this first event after the changes we have had at Morgan Lucas Racing. To get a good run under our belt and win with a pretty decent e.t. meant a lot to me, and I’m sure it meant a lot to these GEICO crewmembers, too.”
That put the 33-year-old against Kalitta, who had the quickest car on the property all weekend, including in the second round. While Crampton made a solid pass of 3.764 seconds at 324.67 mph, Kalitta recorded low e.t. of the round, a 3.729 at a booming 330.15 mph.
“That was always going to be a tough race to win,” Crampton said. “That Kalitta car is on fire right now. I went up there with the same mind-set: To just do my job and not worry about what Doug Kalitta was going to do. But we all know he is one of the best in the world. I had it in the back of my mind that I was excited to line up against someone like that and see how I fared.”
Crampton fared well with a pair of 3.7-second runs and solid reaction times. One race into his young career, the smile is wide on Crampton’s face.
“As a whole, this weekend has been so much fun,” Crampton said. “The fans have been awesome and the other drivers have been really good to me with any help I may need. This team and this crew have done a great job. Having the support of Morgan (Lucas), while having Forrest and Charlotte (Lucas) here to watch, it means a lot to me.”