Reading, Pennsylvania (Oct. 1, 2016) - Usually, when rain wipes out three of the four scheduled qualifying sessions, as unfortunately has been the case with this weekend's 32nd annual Dodge NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway, drag racers get a little antsy about race day. But after qualifying No. 1 a week ago in St. Louis, Lucas Oil Top Fuel pro Richie Crampton feels pretty good about his chances when Sunday's eliminations begin.
"It's always a bit of a crapshoot for everyone when you only have one look at the track, but we feel really good about our race program at the moment," Crampton said. "Based on what we were able to do in St. Louis, earning the pole and reaching the semifinals, we have a good bit of confidence in Aaron's (Brooks, crew chief) ability to get us down the strip with a big time tomorrow.
"I mostly feel bad for the fans and the Safety Safari guys because they've endured the most with this pretty constant drizzle we've had. The Safety Safari has worked so hard trying to prep the track over and over only to have it rain again and again, and the fans have had to suffer through it all. I can only say we'll do our best to reward them with a fantastic day of racing tomorrow."
Thankfully, most weather forecasts call for a clearing trend overnight that should lead to dry conditions Sunday. Even more exciting is the fact the cool temperatures should hold, setting the table for a possible record-setting day at the track.
"When it's cool here we all know it can be very, very fast," Crampton said. "Historically, our car does exceptionally well when we can pour all of our horsepower into the tune-up, so I think we'll have a chance to really fly tomorrow.
"As a driver, you dream about these kinds of conditions. Like I said, maybe we can make up for two days of misery with an awesome day of racing. That's our goal."
In the one lone session conducted Saturday, Crampton posted a 4.168-second pass at 204.42 mph. The run looked solid until the 660-foot timer when his rear tires broke free. Then, as Crampton tried to get the car to hook back up, the supercharger backfired and left him drifting to the finish line.
Crampton, of Adelaide, South Australia, will open race day against part-time racer Dom Lagana, who ran a 3.811 at 323.74 mph.
"If we keep the car hooked up and nothing breaks, we can run with anyone here," Crampton said.
Top Fuel eliminations start at noon, Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will broadcast the action live from 2 to 5 p.m., Sunday. (All times listed in ET).