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06062016 richiec

Chicago, Illinois (July 9, 2016) - Richie Crampton, driver of the 10,000-horsepower Lucas Oil Top Fuel dragster, celebrated his birthday Saturday by qualifying in the No. 8 position (3.753 seconds, 311.56 mph) for tomorrow's eliminations of the 19th annual K&N Filters Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill., just a few miles from Chicago.

Crampton, now 36, has six wins in his brief, three-year career in Top Fuel but has yet to chalk up a mark in the win column in the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. The native Australian is hopeful of his Lucas Oil team's chances of changing that on Sunday, which begins with an opening-round race against No. 9 qualifier Leah Pritchett.

"We qualified No. 8, and you always want to qualify a little better, but nonetheless that's a good place to start," Crampton said. "We've been qualifying in conditions today that are probably going to be very similar to tomorrow's conditions, so from that point of view I'm pretty happy we were able to run fairly consistent.

"Compared to some of our previous qualifying efforts here lately, I'm awfully confident going into race day with our Lucas Oil race car."

Although he wasn't able to celebrate his birthday in a traditional manner, Crampton has had a lot of fun on the anniversary of his birth at Route 66 Raceway. He also has a special incentive to be victorious tomorrow.

"It's been a good day," Crampton said. "The crew guys have had fun. They've given me some pretty interesting gifts, as they often do, but it's been good. My parents are here from Australia, and my fiancée Steph (Laski) drove up from Indianapolis to be here with me as well, so it's been a good day."

Crampton's dad Al has been present for two of his son's trips to the winner's circle, but his mom June has yet to be in attendance to see her boy grab a Wally trophy.

Top Fuel eliminations start at 11 a.m., Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will carry qualifying action from 10 p.m. to midnight ET, Saturday and eliminations live beginning at 2 p.m., Sunday.

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