An incredible day of NHRA racing in Brainerd, Minnesota saw Australians Richie Crampton and Wayne Newby both competing in Top Fuel. Read on to find out about how they went.
Crampton won for the fourth time this season and ran his record to a perfect 6-0 in career two-wide final rounds by knocking off Brittany Force in the final round of the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals.
Crampton was able to celebrate in the winner’s circle with Lucas Oil co-founders Forrest and Charlotte Lucas and his entire Morgan Lucas Racing team.
“For a Lucas Oil car like ours to win the Lucas Oil Nationals, that means a huge amount to Forrest and Charlotte and our entire MLR team,” Crampton said.
Plus, his parents, Alan and June Crampton, just happened to be visiting the United States from their native Australia.
“It’s amazing that (my dad) was here for my first win and even more amazing that we got lucky again and he’s here to see me win and take some winner’s circle pictures,” Crampton said. “When your family lives on the other side of the world and you’re over here pursuing your own dreams, it’s pretty special to have your parents, who are some of your best friends, with you in the winner’s circle like this.”
Earlier Sunday, Antron Brown became the first Top Fuel driver to run a sub-3.7-second run in the first round, and Shawn Langdon went quicker still in the second with a massive 3.66, but neither driver was around for the final, as Crampton built momentum in the first two rounds.
“We did have a rough start to the day,” Crampton said. “We were a little lucky to get by. It wasn’t really until the third round that we started hitting our stride.”
Crampton knocked off boss and teammate Morgan Lucas in the first round, pedaling to a pass of 3.964 seconds at 313.66 mph to beat Lucas’ 4.678-second run at 133.07 mph.
That round-win clinched a spot in the Countdown to the Championship and sent him against Larry Dixon in Round 2. There, Crampton had to pedal again, but his pass of 3.937 seconds at 289.88 mph was more than enough to overcome Dixon’s slowing run of 8.482 seconds at 89.65 mph.
Crampton and crew chief Aaron Brooks had plenty of speed in the semifinals against Langdon. Crampton ran 3.710 seconds at 317.79 mph to overpower Langdon’s 4.196 at 279.27 mph and earn lane choice against Force.
In the final, Force made a solid pass, 3.771 seconds at 293.79 mph, but Crampton left first and made the quickest run in his career, 3.695 seconds at 325.30 mph, to get the victory.
“To run a 3.69 in the final was the icing on the cake, for sure,” Crampton said. “I couldn’t be happier to work for such a great organisation and to have such a great crew chief in Aaron Brooks and such a great crew that I have. They’re the best crew out here, and I’ve been working with them for a long time, so this means a lot to all of us.”
The victory was the sixth of his young career and also ended a mini-slump for Crampton, who had won only three rounds in the last five races. That’s great momentum heading to the U.S. Nationals in two weeks, where Crampton is the defending champion.
“Reigning U.S. Nationals champion — we’ve got a lot to live up to there,” Crampton said. “But this is the perfect thing for our momentum to go to Indy and try to win that Traxxas Shootout and defend our U.S. Nationals title.
“It’s been a little rocky in the last few races, but this event has put us back on stride and where we need to be to defend that U.S. Nationals title.”
Meanwhile, fellow Australian Wayne Newby qualified 14th for Rapisarda Autosport International with a 4.01 and faced off against Doug Kalitta in round one. Tyre smoke in that encounter meant Kalitta’s 3.73 was easily able to account for the Aussies.
Image by Steve Easton Motorsport.