Las Vegas, Nevada (April 12, 2015) - There is no sophomore slump for Lucas Oil Top Fuel driver Richie Crampton.
Crampton capped a strong start to his second season with a stirring victory on Sunday at the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
He secured his first victory of the season after winning at least one round in the previous four races as well as qualifying in the top half in each race to start the year for Morgan Lucas Racing.
“It’s huge,” Crampton said. “Obviously, we want to win right out of the gate, but that hasn’t always been the case for MLR. To win in the fifth event and to go to the final at the Four-Wide Nationals, we’re gathering some good momentum.”
Crampton reached the final round in Charlotte two weeks ago, but NHRA doesn’t count that as an official final-round appearance. That means Crampton is a perfect 3 for 3 in finals, including victories in Englishtown, N.J., and Indianapolis in his rookie season.
On Sunday, Crampton beat Troy Buff, Steve Torrence, J.R. Todd, and Larry Dixon to secure the win.
“It’s a huge boost for the entire team,” Crampton said. “We’ve got a great hot-track race car, and we all know how well (crew chief) Aaron (Brooks) can run when the weather is cool. He’s just phenomenal right now and one of the best around. I’m extremely lucky to get to drive such great equipment.”
That’s a sentiment Crampton has repeated numerous times in his young career. A native of Australia, Crampton moved to the United States to try to work in NHRA, and he landed a job on the MLR team with driver Morgan Lucas. When Lucas stepped aside from full-time racing last year, Crampton was tabbed to fill the seat.
“I’m from the other side of the world, so this is like a 6,000-mile hole in one for me,” Crampton said. “I’m extremely lucky, and it speaks volumes for Forrest and Charlotte Lucas, Morgan and Katie Lucas, and the Lucas Oil family. The entire team stood behind Morgan’s decision to give me a crack at it. I’m very fortunate, and I’ve got some big shoes to fill.”
Lucas had been at each of Crampton’s first two wins, but he wasn’t racing in Las Vegas this weekend.
“I did not text Morgan all day long, which is very rare,” Crampton said. “I usually send him a picture of the e.t. slip after qualifying runs and every round of eliminations, but I changed it up a little today.
“I know he’s over the moon and extremely proud of Aaron and the entire team. I’m sure he was following along on Twitter and all the social media outlets. I’m sure he knew exactly what was going on, and I’m sure he was pacing around his living room back in Indianapolis waiting to hear the result of the final.”
Crampton started the day with a 3.821-second pass at 322.27 mph to run past Buff, the No. 12 qualifier, who made a run of 5.346 seconds at 128.58 mph. No. 4 qualifier Steve Torrence was next, but Crampton’s 3.838 at 315.78 mph was able to get around Torrence’s 3.899 at 301.81 mph.
No. 1 qualifier J.R. Todd loomed in the semifinals, and Crampton won a thrilling race to advance to the final round. Crampton left first with a .075-second light and then made a run of 3.828 seconds at 318.32 mph to beat Todd’s 3.837 at 321.73 mph.
Crampton got the jump on past Top Fuel champion Dixon in the final with a .070 light, and as Dixon spun the tires in a 4.446-second run at 201.73 mph, Crampton sped to the win light with a 4.906 at 301.33 mph.
Crampton was joined in the winner’s circle by Funny Car winner John Force, another Lucas Oil-backed driver.
“It was a great day, and I’m lucky to share it with Force, a Lucas Oil teammate,” Crampton said. “That’s pretty good company to be in.”