Sonoma, California (July 30, 2016) - The swagger is slowly coming back to the Lucas Oil Top Fuel dragster team of driver Richie Crampton.
Crampton and the Morgan Lucas Racing team appear to be breaking out of their slump, grabbing the No. 5 qualifying spot for the Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals on Saturday after a series of good runs at Sonoma Raceway.
"The Lucas Oil team and (crew chief) Aaron Brooks did a great job here in qualifying," Crampton said. "We ended up fifth, which is really good. We made some good runs that were conservative but still fast, so that's a good thing for race day. It's going to be a good day."
Crampton's best pass came in the best conditions of the weekend on Friday night, when he made a run of 3.714 seconds at 322.65 mph. That is his quickest pass since Topeka, Kan., where he qualified No. 4 and raced to the semifinals.
After winning five races and finishing third in the Top Fuel standings a year ago, Crampton has inexplicably struggled in 2016. He has yet to win a race and sits ninth in the points, but his Lucas Oil team has not wavered a bit in their work ethic and enthusiasm.
"We all knew that this team was much better than it appeared by our results of late, so I knew we would get back on track at some point," Crampton said. "I think we are starting to see signs of that now just by the amount of good runs we have made here in qualifying. We know the Lucas Oil team is up for the job, and I think they can take on just about any team out here."
Crampton begins eliminations in Sonoma against Troy Buff, who qualified No. 12 with a top pass of 3.813 seconds at 316.30 mph.
"We aren't taking anyone lightly anymore -- we never really did," Crampton said. "We are just going to try to run our race and get this Lucas Oil dragster to the finish line first four times, and everyone will be all smiles."
Top Fuel eliminations start around 11 a.m., Sunday. FOX will carry the action live from 1 to 4 p.m. PT, Sunday.