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Lucas Oil pro Richie Crampton's Brainerd title defense surrendered early

Brainerd, Minnesota (August 21, 2016) - As Richie Crampton sat in his Lucas Oil Top Fuel dragster awaiting his turn to run down Brainerd International Raceway, he was dreaming big as car after car posted big numbers on the scoreboards. But when he finally got a chance to race good friend JR Todd towards the end of the first round, his dream of a second straight Brainerd title was lost in a cloud of tire smoke.

"We had the car set on kill and were very aggressive down low," Crampton said. "We just about got through to the other side of what we call the trouble area, but it started hazing the tires a bit and I had to whack the throttle. That was all JR needed to get a lead, and he rode it out and took the win.

"After winning this race last year and Morgan (Lucas, teammate and car owner) winning in 2014, we were getting a feeling like we could do no wrong here. But drag racing, if anything, will humble you every chance it gets, and we're quite a bit disappointed that neither car advanced out of Round 1, especially with this being a Lucas Oil race."

Crampton and Todd were side by side until Crampton encountered trouble. By the time the Australian native recovered from smoking his tires, Todd was too far ahead to be caught. In the traps, Todd's 3.736 at 329.10 mph was simply too much for Crampton's 4.165 at 255.87 mph.

"It just drove into that smoke and I had no choice," Crampton said. "I had to pedal the car and just hope JR had trouble himself. He didn't and he drove away for the win. Once I saw him that far out, I just lifted and coasted over the finish line. No need to hurt parts when you know it's a lost cause."

The biggest drag race of the year, the 62nd annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis is next on the schedule with a week off in between, which most teams, including Morgan Lucas Racing, will use for testing at the historic facility.

"Our shop is in Indy, so it's nice for everyone to be able to get home and sleep in their own beds for the next month," Crampton said. "It's a great time to recharge, reconnect with our families, and still be able to test and race while sleeping in our own beds.

"Indy will be the third race in a row where Lucas Oil has a big presence. We had the Protect The Harvest race in Seattle two weeks ago, the Lucas Oil race here, and we're at Lucas Oil Raceway in our hometown when we go to Indy, so the importance of doing well remains sky high."

Sunday's eliminations will air on FOX Sports 1 from 1-4 p.m. CT.

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