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Lucas Oil Top Fuel pro Richie Crampton makes fast start to Countdown

Charlotte, North Carolina (September 17, 2016) - Richie Crampton and his Lucas Oil team need a good start to the Countdown to the Championship to increase their chances at making a run at the 2016 Top Fuel title.

So far, so good.

Crampton qualified No. 8 for the NHRA Carolina Nationals on Saturday in Charlotte, and he made three solid passes during qualifying, setting up a promising race day.

"The car is running great," Crampton said. "It's the business end of the year, and to put three good runs on the board is really what we wanted. We've got a pretty good outlook for race day with that kind of a car."

Crampton's top pass was 3.744 seconds at 320.51 mph to earn him a top-half starting spot, but his Q1 run was the quickest of the session and his pass in Q3 was fifth-quickest.

"This Countdown gives (crew chief) Aaron Brooks and the Lucas Oil guys a second chance to shine," Crampton said. "We've got some work to do, but this is the right time of the season to get hot, and we know we can do that."

The Countdown is NHRA's playoffs, a six-race stretch that concludes the season and crowns champions in four professional classes. Charlotte is the first race of the Countdown, and a good start could propel Crampton up from his current spot of ninth in the Top Fuel standings.

"We've shown the last couple of years that we're capable of winning races," said Crampton, who won twice in his rookie season of 2014 and five times last year. "We haven't gone to the Winner's Circle in 2016 yet, but Charlotte would be a good place to do that."

Crampton faces No. 9 qualifier Leah Pritchett in the first round Sunday. Her best pass was 3.765 seconds at 323.74 mph.

Top Fuel eliminations start at noon, Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will broadcast all the elimination action from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m., Sunday. (All times listed in ET).

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