St Louis, Missouri (September 25, 2016) - Richie Crampton gained ground in NHRA's Countdown to the Championship playoffs with his third semifinal finish this year at the 5th annual AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park just outside the St. Louis.
Crampton and the Lucas Oil team moved up two slots in Top Fuel championship points from 10th to eighth by way of the seventh semifinal finish of his short three-year career.
Crampton, driver of the 10,000-horsepower Lucas Oil Top Fuel dragster, started Sunday's race day from the No. 1 qualifying position (3.733 seconds, 323.50 mph), his second No. 1 spot of the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
In the opening two rounds of eliminations, Crampton dispatched Kebin Kinsley and fellow championship contender Brittany Force.
In the semifinals, Crampton was defeated by eventual event winner Shawn Langdon, 3.844 at 317.79 mph to 3.784 at 322.27.
"It was a good weekend," Crampton said. "This was just one of those racing weekends where you come up a little short and we got beat."
Even though the race wins haven't been as frequent this season as they were for him in 2015 -- he had five last year compared to none so far this season -- Crampton is encouraged by the Lucas Oil team's recent strides in performance.
"It's been a rough year but today's semifinal helps," Crampton said. "I'm a little more confident now and happy with the direction we've got this thing going. I think we are only going to continue to refine it for the last few races and try and resurrect what we can out of the championship points.
"Again, it was a good weekend and the guys did a great job. I just wish we could have gone a little bit further."
Crampton will compete in the third round of the NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoffs next weekend in Reading, Pa., the 32nd annual Dodge NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway, Sept. 29-Oct. 2.