Richie Crampton, the 2014 Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals winner, posted the quickest time in Top Fuel Wednesday at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis during the opening day of testing for the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals.
Drivers of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series took to the dragstrip for the first of a two-day test in preparation for the world’s most prestigious drag race, held Aug. 31-Sept. 5, at the famed NHRA-owned multi-purpose motorsports facility just west of downtown Indianapolis. The event, which will also feature the lucrative Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Top Fuel and Funny Car, is the final race in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series regular season.
Crampton, who also won the 2014 Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future award, posted the quickest Top Fuel pass of the session when he navigated his Lucas Oil dragster down the track in 3.701 seconds at 320.28 mph. The time is quicker than the current Lucas Oil Raceway elapsed time track record of 3.740 seconds held by Shawn Langdon. Crampton unofficially broke the track elapsed time record at last year’s test session, too.
“We came out of the box swinging today,” said Crampton, who will enter the event eighth in the points standings. “The conditions were cool today which offered up some great track conditions. Not sure what the race is going to hold for us as far as weather goes so hopefully tomorrow we will see some warmer weather to get some more information for the Big Go.”
On the second day of the closed test session on Thursday, Crampton backed up his performance with a stunning 3.676 at 323.58 mph, another potential track record and his own personal best mark.
“Being the quickest car both days is very rewarding,” said Crampton, who hails from Adelaide, South Australia, but now resides in Brownsburg, Ind. “Aaron (Brooks, crew chief) and the guys have figured a lot of stuff out lately and it’s coming at the perfect time with Indy and the Countdown to the Championship right on front of us.
“We ran a 3.696 up in Seattle a few weeks ago, which was my personal best, so it wasn’t a complete surprise to run another 3.60 here, but running 3.60’s isn’t everything in this sport. We know we need to get our car to run in the heat also. Right now we’re digging the cooler conditions and I personally hope it stays this way next weekend.”
“Indy’s huge in so many ways. We were lucky enough to win it in 2014 and then Morgan (Lucas, car owner and teammate) came back and won it again last year so Morgan Lucas Racing is on a bit of a roll here.
“His car showed some promise in testing also so our overall team approach heading into our biggest weekend of the year is very sound.”
Two more sessions will take to the track on Saturday, Sept. 3 at 2:45 p.m. and 6:45 p.m., and the final two qualifying sessions will take place on Sunday, Sept. 4 at 11:15 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 5. The Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Top Fuel will be contested Saturday, Sept. 3 with rounds at 4 p.m., 5:15 p.m. and 8 p.m. The Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Funny Car takes place on Sunday, Sept. 4 for the eight qualified drivers, with rounds at 12:30 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4:45 p.m.
Australians can watch the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals live through www.nhraallaccess.com
And if you want to see Richie Crampton’s crew eat Vegemite sandwiches, vote for the Aussie to be included in the Traxxas Shootout on the NHRA Facebook here: http://bit.ly/Traxxas2016
Voting will remain open until 9 a.m. (US ET) on Tuesday, Aug. 30.
The fan-voting process will determine the number of lottery balls that each eligible driver will be assigned for the Traxxas Shootout lottery drawings.
— Morgan Lucas Racing (@MLRtopfuel) August 24, 2016
Image credit: Mark Rebilas