Richie Crampton was up to the task in the first round of the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals on Sunday at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, but his Lucas Oil Top Fuel dragster wasn't able to carry him to the second round.

Crampton cut a solid .065-second reaction time against renowned leaver Dave Connolly, but Crampton’s race car went up in smoke almost immediately.

Crampton tried to get the Morgan Lucas Racing dragster under control, but Connolly cruised to the finish line.

As Crampton slowed to a pass of 8.532 at 85.67 mph, Connolly sped to a 3.765 at 324.12 mph.

“Your instant reaction on a regular run when you hit the throttle is you expect to be at the 60-foot mark before you know it,” Crampton said. “When you have a situation like that when it smokes the tires on the starting line, it takes your mind just a second to think, ‘Hang on, you’re not going anywhere.’

“At that point, there’s a lot going on in the cockpit. You’re on and off the throttle and trying to pay attention to what the other driver is doing. If they’re a long way down the racetrack, sometimes there’s not a lot of point to try and recover it that early in the run. You’re thinking about what you’re doing, what the other driver’s doing, trying to concentrate on what the race car needs to hopefully create some traction again. Sometimes they hook up, sometimes they don’t.”

This time, the Lucas Oil dragster didn’t hook up, and Crampton was out in the first round in Phoenix after starting the season with a semifinal finish in Pomona, Calif.

But Crampton more than did his job on the Christmas Tree, edging Connolly on the starting line.

“I’m always working on reaction times,” Crampton said. “I knew I had a big round ahead of me, racing him. He’s one of the best on the starting line, so I was happy to leave first by a couple of ticks on him. But at the end of the day, we’re just gunning for a few more round-wins than we got.”

Crampton did enjoy a good weekend in Phoenix, participating in the Track Walk on Sunday morning and having fun with fans.

“There was an amazing crowd here Saturday, and it was another good one today,” Crampton said. “The Arizona fans have come out in droves for this Wild Horse Pass event. They’ve been a lot of fun to hang out with in the pits, and I’m looking forward to getting back here next year.”