The curtain has come down on another NHRA season with Richie Crampton sewing up a third place finish and Luke Crowley and Rhett Lougheed mixing it up in Pro Stock Motorcycle.
A strong semi final run to cap a wildly successful 2015 NHRA drag racing season lifted second-year pro Richie Crampton to a third-place finish in the final Mello Yello rankings, the best-ever result for the Lucas Oil Top Fuel team.
Crampton won five national events this year to add to the two trophies he collected in his Rookie of the Year campaign. He remains a perfect 7-0 in final-round showings.
“It’s just been an unbelievable year and to jump up a spot in the points to finish third is a great way to finish it off,” Crampton said.
“My crew chiefs Aaron Brooks and Rod Centorbi and the rest of the guys in this pit deserve so much credit. We even got a win for our team owner Morgan Lucas, at Indy no less, out of the handful of races he ran as our teammate, so all in all, just a spectacular year.
“You hear race car drivers talk about sponsors, but really what we have with Lucas Oil and the Lucas family is something extra special. I’m humbled and honoured to drive this car for them and I love to pay them back with good results. We certainly had some highs this year. It was great to have Toyota, MAVTV, and Protect the Harvest with us again as well. I’m just a very lucky boy.”
Crampton’s dream finish at the Pomona track, which is just a stone’s throw from Lucas Oil’s Corona facility, would have been another win, but after expertly dispatching Brittany Force and J.R. Todd in the first two rounds of eliminations he was blasted by new champ Antron Brown with a best-of-the-meet 3.700.
“I beat him off the Tree with my best light of the year, but the car was too much for the track and we spun the tyres,” Crampton said.
“I was actually a bit surprised because it was so stout in Rounds 1 and 2, but maybe we were too greedy. You have to go for it against the champ, and this time he got us.
“Having another year under my belt feels great. I know the car so much better now and I think my driving will only get better. I’m already thinking about next year, but it will be nice to go home to Australia for a visit and then spend some time back in Indiana. I think we’re all ready for a little rest.”
Pro Stock Motorcycle
Luke Crowley improved on his results from Las Vegas but unfortunately for the Ipswich rider, he missed qualification in position 21 of 28.
The two-time Australian Pro Stock Motorcycle Champion recorded a 7.027 at 193.27 mph in his first qualifier followed by a 7.068 at 193.24 mph in Q2. Not content with that, Crew Chief Andrew Budgeon reverted to a similar set up used in Q1 resulting in a 7.016 at 193.79 mph.
“We were so close to the magical six we came here for with all passes having terrible 60′ times,” said Budgeon.
“Coming into Q4 and having no choice but to run a mid 6.9 we decided to have a swing and it spun up on the hit and couldn’t recover. So we didn’t qualify again which lets face it sucks, but we know now we have the power, we have direction and we can go forward.
“Its been an amazing experience doing this and its definitely a surreal feeling standing in the staging lanes with the best of the best, people you’ve watched on TV for the last 10 years. We definitely couldn’t have done it without the generosity and hospitality of Rhett and Mary Lougheed.
“A massive thanks to all the Aussies who followed us online and on social media. And especially to the hand full who made the trek to the US and made time to come down to our pit and say hello.
“PS. don’t expect to see the Tint Werx bike at home anytime soon. We have a taste for this now and we’re already making plans for next season.”
Also in Pro Stock Motorcycle Rhett Lougheed missed the field qualifying 24th with a best of 7.110 at 189.36 mph. Lougheed had earlier recorded a 7.138 in Q1, 7.151 in Q2 and a 7.142 in Q3.