Both Richie Crampton and Steve Harker remain in the hunt for their respective championships with contrasting performances at the NHRA Carolina Nationals over the weekend.

Top Fuel

Richie Crampton and his Morgan Lucas Racing team showed plenty of fight in the first round of the NHRA Carolina Nationals, but he bowed out in an extremely close race with Steve Torrence.

After struggling in qualifying and starting Sunday’s final eliminations from the No. 14 spot, Crampton put down a quick pass of 3.895 seconds at 310.13 mph — a run faster than his best qualifying lap — but Torrence, the No. 3 qualifier, was a tad quicker, making a pass of 3.887 seconds at 312.21 mph to win by .012-second. 

“That was a really close race, and they’re the ones you want to win, whether it be at the finish line or on the starting line,” Crampton said. “We were just so similar the whole way down there. He was just that little bit faster that he got around us.”

Crampton was one of the few Top Fuel drivers to make a clean pass down the left lane, which proved to be tricky on a hot, slick racetrack like it was Sunday.

“To make it down that left lane and run .89 like we did after all of those delays,” Crampton said, “it’s still a credit to (crew chief) Aaron Brooks and this Lucas team.”

Crampton came into the Countdown to the Championship in third place in the Top Fuel standings after winning four times in the first 18 races of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. He’ll slide back a spot or two in the points standings, but Charlotte was the first of six Countdown races, so there is still plenty of time to make a charge back up the ladder.

“I’m already looking at points implications,” Crampton said. “We’re wanting to hold that third position in the Countdown but that’s not to be today. We’ll be out to try to rectify things next week in St. Louis with this hot-track stuff. We’ll just figure it out.”


Top Alcohol Funny Car 

Steve Harker, who recently announced his retirement at the end of the season, put in another impressive display qualifying third and reaching the final in his bid for a second NHRA championship.

Harker never trailed for the win following a huge holeshot in round 1 against Mark Rogers and then dispatched Jay Payne in round 2 in a similar scenario. 

Roles were reversed in the semi final as Kris Hool cut a .007 light to Harker’s .076, but tyre shake ended Hool’s chances while the Aussie went on to complete a solid 5.736 ET at 253.85 to advance.

Unfortunately Harker couldn’t complete the event win leaving before the tree was activated in the final and handing the win to Mickey Ferro.