After running quicker than the established Lucas Oil Raceway track record on two different occasions during last week's pre-race test session, Top Fuel pro Richie Crampton was sky-high entering this weekend's 62nd annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals.

But for reasons only the drag racing gods could understand, Crampton’s stellar test runs in his Lucas Oil dragster just didn’t translate to the race itself, and his struggles from qualifying continued on race day, where he exited in Round 1 after losing to Doug Kalitta. 

“Having worked on these things for more than a decade before I got my chance to drive, I feel like I know pretty much everything they’re going to do, but this weekend has just got us all puzzled,” Crampton said. “The car was dead-perfect in testing and we were feeling super optimistic about the race, but things changed on us and we’ve struggled. 

“It’s heartbreaking because we all live here and everyone has their wives and kids and friends out here with us, cheering us on. You always want to do well when the people you care about are watching. Plus, the Lucas family is here at their track, so it’s a killer feeling to perform the way we did today.”

Kalitta and Crampton both started off strong but before long Crampton’s dragster began to haze the tyres. The South Australian stayed with it in hopes Kalitta would encounter trouble of his own but that never happened. In the end, Kalitta’s 3.745 at 327.35 mph awarded him the easy win over Crampton’s 4.351 at 223.65 mph.

“We have a weekend off before the Countdown to the Championship begins in Charlotte, and being here at home I know everyone will be at the shop early tomorrow getting us ready for three big races in a row,” Crampton said. “We have to be ready to compete with no mistakes because there are only six playoff races and the first three are back to back to back. 

“The good news is the points are reset for the Countdown, and it’s kind of a fresh start for everyone. We’ve seen people win championships from just about every spot on the Countdown ladder, so our future is in our hands.”

 In other Aussie news, both Rapisarda Autosport International and Shane Tucker will compete at the NHRA Carolina Nationals on September 16-18 at Zmax Dragway in Charlotte.

Image credit: Geiger Media Global