Richie Crampton maintained his fifth-place position in the points standings with a quarterfinal finish in the NHRA Sonoma Nationals on Sunday at Sonoma Raceway.

Crampton scored an important victory in the first round, beating Don Schumacher Racing driver Spencer Massey, who sits sixth in the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series standings. 

“Running a Schumacher car first round — we don’t care who we race, but you definitely pay attention when you’re racing Spencer or any DSR car,” Crampton said. “We’re obviously keeping an eye on the points already, and it’s good to get a round-win against a team like that. 

“A 3.80 was a decent run for the session, and we thought we had something pretty good going.”

Crampton and his Morgan Lucas Racing team bounced back from some failures during qualifying to make a pass of 3.805 seconds at 323.27 mph and beat Massey’s tire-smoking 6.383 at 92.29 mph. 

That put Crampton up against No. 1 qualifier Antron Brown, who ran the identical elapsed time as Crampton’s first-round run. Crampton, however, smoked the tyres down the track and slowed to a pass of 4.536 seconds at 165.99 mph. 

“We spun the tires downtrack,” Crampton said. “I had missed it on the Tree, which was driver error, so to add insult to injury, we spun the tires. It just wasn’t a good run for us.” 

Crampton was caught on the starting line while trying to shallow stage. As his stage bulb flickered and came on, Brown had staged, too. The Christmas Tree immediately started as Crampton was still trying to figure out whether he was fully staged. 

“I was trying to be as shallow as I could staging the race car so we would get every bit of ET out of the thing and have lane choice for the next round if we were to win,” Crampton said. “The stage bulb flickered in my lane, and I went to bump in just a little more. During that process of me focusing on my flickering stage bulbs, Antron had fully staged. It was a quick Tree, and I just wasn’t ready.” 

Crampton’s .345-second reaction time, though, didn’t matter as he spun the tyres down the track. 

He won’t have much time to dwell, however, as the NHRA Northwest Nationals begins Friday at Pacific Raceways in Seattle.