Richie Crampton capped a strong start to his second season with a stirring victory on Sunday at the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
He secured his first victory of the season after winning at least one round in the previous four races as well as qualifying in the top half in each race to start the year for Morgan Lucas Racing.
“It’s huge,” Crampton said. “Obviously, we want to win right out of the gate, but that hasn’t always been the case for MLR. To win in the fifth event and to go to the final at the Four-Wide Nationals, we’re gathering some good momentum.”
Crampton reached the final round in Charlotte two weeks ago, but NHRA doesn’t count that as an official final-round appearance. That means Crampton is a perfect 3 for 3 in finals, including victories in Englishtown, N.J., and Indianapolis in his rookie season.
On Sunday, Crampton beat Troy Buff, Steve Torrence, J.R. Todd, and Larry Dixon to secure the win.
“It’s a huge boost for the entire team,” Crampton said. “We’ve got a great hot-track race car, and we all know how well (crew chief) Aaron (Brooks) can run when the weather is cool. He’s just phenomenal right now and one of the best around. I’m extremely lucky to get to drive such great equipment.”
That’s a sentiment Crampton has repeated numerous times in his young career. From Adelaide, Crampton moved to the United States to try to work in NHRA, and he landed a job on the MLR team with driver Morgan Lucas. When Lucas stepped aside from full-time racing last year, Crampton was tabbed to fill the seat.
“I’m from the other side of the world, so this is like a 6,000-mile hole in one for me,” Crampton said. “I’m extremely lucky, and it speaks volumes for Forrest and Charlotte Lucas, Morgan and Katie Lucas, and the Lucas Oil family. The entire team stood behind Morgan’s decision to give me a crack at it. I’m very fortunate, and I’ve got some big shoes to fill.”
Crampton started the day with a 3.821-second pass at 322.27 mph to run past Buff, the No. 12 qualifier, who made a run of 5.346 seconds at 128.58 mph. No. 4 qualifier Steve Torrence was next, but Crampton’s 3.838 at 315.78 mph was able to get around Torrence’s 3.899 at 301.81 mph.
No. 1 qualifier J.R. Todd loomed in the semi finals, and Crampton won a thrilling race to advance to the final round. Crampton left first with a .075-second light and then made a run of 3.828 seconds at 318.32 mph to beat Todd’s 3.837 at 321.73 mph.
Crampton got the jump on past Top Fuel champion Dixon in the final with a .070 light, and as Dixon spun the tires in a 4.446-second run at 201.73 mph, Crampton sped to the win light with a 4.906 at 301.33 mph.
In other news Rapisarda Autosport International reached the second round with Dom Lagana at the wheel.
Lagana piloted the Titan Cranes machine to eighth in qualifying with a 3.805 to set up a first round matchup with Dave Connolly. Connolly dropped a cylinder at about 500 feet allowing Lagana to advance on a 3.866 at 286.25 mph.
Unfortunately RAI’s Vegas trip came to an end in Round 2 with Lagana up in smoke just past the tree leaving J.R. Todd to take the win.
Image courtesy: NHRA.com