Making another strong statement in only his second year on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series circuit, GEICO/Lucas Oil Top Fuel driver Richie Crampton drove to a hard-fought quarterfinal appearance at the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals.

Crampton qualified No. 3 and was paired up against No. 14 Troy Buff in the first round of eliminations Sunday at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park. Both drivers left the line within .008-second of each other and immediately smoked the tires. However, using knowledge he gained in his rookie season, Crampton was able to pedal his way to a round-one victory.

“We qualified strong and we were pretty confident heading into the first round,” Crampton said. “I think we underestimated how good the racetrack was this morning for round one though. It went out and shook the tires right away, but I was able to pedal and get around Troy Buff.

“It was good to get that first-round win out of the way so we could move on and focus on getting ready for the second round.” 

In round two Crampton was face to face with Shawn Langdon, the winner of the first race of the 2015 season. Langdon left the line first with a .059 reaction time to Crampton’s .091, but the sophomore driver gave Langdon a run for his money, coming up .002-second short at the finish line. 

“Shawn (Langdon) is deadly on the starting line and he showed it once again,” Crampton said. “It was a close race for sure. I kind of feel like I let the team down on that one a little bit; as the driver I should have reacted quicker. That’s just the way our sport works. You live and die by those reaction times. Langdon got this one but we’ll get him next time.” 

NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series action will continue with the NHRA Gatornationals, March 12-15, at Auto-Plus Raceway in Gainesville.

Image courtesy: Lee Montgomery