Crampton 100th different NHRA Top Fuel winner; Pedregon (FC), Coughlin (PS), Hines (PSM) also win at Englishtown

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Richie Crampton claimed his first career Top Fuel victory, becoming the 100th different winner in the category, at the 45th annual Toyota NHRA Summernationals on Sunday.

Cruz Pedregon (Funny Car), Jeg Coughlin (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were respective winners at the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park.

Crampton powered his GEICO/Lucas Oil dragster to a 3.819-second pass at 320.51 mph to defeat Top Fuel points leader Doug Kalitta in the final round. The victory came during the Australian’s ninth career start after replacing Morgan Lucas in the offseason and only a week after Crampton and his girlfriend welcomed the birth of their first child.

“This is all surreal right now,” Crampton said. “I’m really just living the dream. I know that sounds cliché, but I’m just lucky to be in the position I’m at in my personal life and my career.”

Crampton was the No. 2 qualifier for the event, his career-best starting spot. The win was extra sweet given Crampton’s milestone achievement.

“I had no idea coming into this race that somebody could possibly be the 100th new winner in Top Fuel, but it’s pretty special to get that particular point on the list,” Crampton said. “You think about how many great drivers there are on that particular list, and it’s icing on the cake for me there.”

Kalitta was appearing in his fifth final of the season in his Mac Tools dragster. Despite the defeat, Kalitta increased his points lead over second place Antron Brown to 103 points.

Pedregon was the class of the Funny Car field all weekend, going from No. 1 qualifier to the race victory with a performance of 4.126 at 301.33 in his Snap-on Tools Toyota Camry over Del Worsham in his DHL Camry in the final. The win was a relief for Pedregon, whose team has struggled early this season.

“It was a tremendous points day,” said Pedregon. “To say I’m excited and happy would be an understatement, but I also feel relieved a little bit. We’ve dug ourselves a pretty good hole this year.”

The win was Pedregon’s 35th of his career and first of the season. With the victory, Pedregon tied NHRA legend Don Prudhomme for fourth on the all-time Funny Car wins list.

“Prudhomme is my hero, and it means a lot [to tie him],” Pedregon said. “I’ve been doing this a long time. I’ve had plenty of opportunities, but I think my biggest accomplishment is the fact that I have been doing it so long in different scenarios. To be able to do this at this level and maintain it 20 years later means everything to me.”

Coughlin secured his second Pro Stock win of the season and 58th of his career by defeating Greg Anderson in the final round with a 6.510 at 213.94 in his JEGS.com/Mopar Dodge Dart.

“We had the kind of conditions that Pro Stock cars love today with a great barometer and not a cloud in the sky but you had to work for it,” Coughlin said. “They gave us enough time to figure it out and we had a great day.”

Coughlin, the defending and five-time world champ, has reached the final in the last three events, also winning Atlanta and finishing runner-up in Topeka. He beat Anderson’s Summit Racing Chevy Camaro in both finals this season.

Erica Enders-Stevens had a great weekend performance-wise in her Elite Motorsports Chevy Camaro as she reset both ends of the Pro Stock national record with her 6.464 second ET and 215.55 mph speed.

Hines defeated Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson teammate Eddie Krawiec to take the Pro Stock Motorcycle victory. It was the second win for Hines at Raceway Park.

“We are back,” Hines said. “I think we put an exclamation point on that this weekend. We’ve been digging the last year and a half to get back to where we were. I’ve always said that racing gets in the way of our R&D and this winter we had a chance to get a lot of work done and we’re starting to reap the benefits.”

A three-time Pro Stock Motorcycle world champion, Hines recorded his second win of the season and 34th of his career. He leaves Englishtown having increased his points lead.

The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series continues in Bristol, Tenn., with the 14th annual Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway, June 13-15.

 

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Here are Sunday’s final results from the 45th Toyota NHRA Summernationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, the ninth of 24 races in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series:

Top Fuel — Richie Crampton, 3.819 seconds, 320.51 mph  def. Doug Kalitta, 3.848 seconds, 317.34 mph.

Funny Car — Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 4.126, 301.33  def. Del Worsham, Camry, 4.189, 296.70.

Pro Stock — Jeg Coughlin, Dodge Dart, 6.510, 213.94  def. Greg Anderson, Chevy Camaro, 10.314, 88.65.

Pro Stock Motorcycle — Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.828, 196.56  def. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.837, 196.30.

Pro Modified — Von Smith, Chevy Camaro, 5.966, 241.58  def. Jason Hamstra, Ford Mustang, 9.861, 91.12.

 

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Here’s the final finishing order (1-16) at the 45th Toyota NHRA Summernationals:

TOP FUEL: 1.  Richie Crampton; 2.  Doug Kalitta; 3.  Morgan Lucas; 4.  Shawn Langdon; 5.  Tony Schumacher; 6.  Bob Vandergriff; 7.  Brittany Force; 8.  J.R. Todd; 9.  Leah Pritchett; 10.  Dom Lagana; 11.  Antron Brown; 12.  Spencer Massey; 13.  Steve Torrence; 14.  Khalid alBalooshi; 15.  Clay Millican; 16.  Terry McMillen.

FUNNY CAR: 1.  Cruz Pedregon; 2.  Del Worsham; 3.  Robert Hight; 4.  Jack Beckman; 5.  Alexis DeJoria; 6.  Matt Hagan; 7.  Tim Wilkerson; 8.  Tommy Johnson Jr.; 9.  Courtney Force; 10.  Ron Capps; 11.  Chad Head; 12.  John Force; 13.  Tony Pedregon; 14.  Jeff Arend; 15.  Terry Haddock; 16.  Bob Tasca III.

PRO STOCK: 1.  Jeg Coughlin; 2.  Greg Anderson; 3.  Dave Connolly; 4.  Rodger Brogdon; 5.  Erica Enders-Stevens; 6.  Jason Line; 7.  Shane Gray; 8.  Chris McGaha; 9.  Vincent Nobile; 10.  John Gaydosh Jr; 11.  Allen Johnson; 12.  Val Smeland; 13.  Larry Morgan; 14.  V. Gaines; 15.  Kenny Delco; 16.  Jonathan Gray.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1.  Andrew Hines; 2.  Eddie Krawiec; 3.  Hector Arana Jr; 4.  Matt Smith; 5.  Michael Ray; 6.  John Hall; 7.  Jerry Savoie; 8.  Chaz Kennedy; 9.  Steve Johnson; 10.  Scotty Pollacheck; 11.  Angie Smith; 12.  LE Tonglet; 13.  Hector Arana; 14.  Shawn Gann; 15.  Jim Underdahl; 16.  Adam Arana.

 

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Here are the updated point standings (top 10) in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series:

Top Fuel: 1.  Doug Kalitta, 809; 2.  Antron Brown, 706; 3.  Shawn Langdon, 638; 4.  Spencer Massey, 598; 5.  Steve Torrence, 580; 6.  Khalid alBalooshi, 503; 7.  Tony Schumacher, 495; 8.  Brittany Force, 462; 9.  Richie Crampton, 433; 10.  J.R. Todd, 392.

Funny Car: 1.  Robert Hight, 847; 2.  John Force, 601; 3.  Alexis DeJoria, 564; 4.  Del Worsham, 535; 5.  Ron Capps, 534; 6.  Courtney Force, 527; 7.  Tommy Johnson Jr., 508; 8.  Cruz Pedregon, 506; 9.  Jack Beckman, 480; 10.  Matt Hagan, 454.

Pro Stock: 1.  Erica Enders-Stevens, 791; 2.  (tie) Jeg Coughlin, 668; Allen Johnson, 668; 4.  Jason Line, 623; 5.  Shane Gray, 582; 6.  Vincent Nobile, 563; 7.  Dave Connolly, 535; 8.  V. Gaines, 456; 9.  Chris McGaha, 427; 10.  Rodger Brogdon, 355.

Pro Stock Motorcycle: 1.  Andrew Hines, 406; 2.  Eddie Krawiec, 382; 3.  John Hall, 285; 4.  Hector Arana Jr, 263; 5.  Scotty Pollacheck, 252; 6.  Michael Ray, 235; 7.  Matt Smith, 206; 8.  Steve Johnson, 187; 9.  (tie) Hector Arana, 168; Chaz Kennedy, 168.

 

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Here are final round-by-round results from the 45th Toyota NHRA Summernationals:

TOP FUEL:

ROUND ONE — Bob Vandergriff, 4.476, 219.01 def. Khalid alBalooshi, 6.402, 130.57; Richie Crampton, 3.774, 316.82 def. Dom Lagana, 3.906, 312.71; Morgan Lucas, 3.834, 276.52 def. Steve Torrence, 5.438, 124.48; Shawn Langdon, 3.801, 320.58 def. Terry McMillen, 8.868, 85.83; Doug Kalitta, 3.785, 323.89 def. Clay Millican, 6.509, 97.26; Brittany Force, 3.789, 326.24 def. Spencer Massey, 4.130, 232.27; J.R. Todd, 3.820, 319.14 def. Leah Pritchett, 3.823, 320.51; Tony Schumacher, 3.782, 325.92 def. Antron Brown, 3.985, 270.37;

QUARTERFINALS — Langdon, 3.806, 322.27 def. Vandergriff, 3.880, 313.66; Lucas, 3.846, 311.99 def. Force, 4.107, 253.18; Kalitta, 3.822, 317.05 def. Schumacher, 3.827, 319.14; Crampton, 4.090, 261.07 def. Todd, 4.762, 209.04;

SEMIFINALS — Kalitta, 4.375, 249.12 def. Lucas, 6.032, 139.07; Crampton, 4.120, 293.92 def. Langdon, 6.356, 122.97;

FINAL — Crampton, 3.819, 320.51 def. Kalitta, 3.848, 317.34.

 

FUNNY CAR:

ROUND ONE — Robert Hight, Ford Mustang, 4.129, 307.79 def. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 8.909, 76.61; Del Worsham, Toyota Camry, 4.512, 227.08 def. Tony Pedregon, Camry, 4.602, 213.60; Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.524, 230.45 def. Terry Haddock, Chevy Impala, 5.466, 144.88; Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 4.120, 297.22 def. John Force, Mustang, 4.354, 281.60; Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.067, 306.33 def. Chad Head, Camry, 4.177, 283.61; Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.064, 311.56 def. Jeff Arend, Charger, 5.109, 164.47; Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.073, 301.33 def. Courtney Force, Mustang, 4.116, 312.78; Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.069, 313.58 def. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.153, 300.86;

QUARTERFINALS — C. Pedregon, 5.183, 216.41 def. Johnson Jr., 7.265, 113.14; Worsham, 4.168, 301.94 def. Wilkerson, 4.696, 188.36; Beckman, 4.133, 308.50 def. Hagan, 4.121, 300.60; Hight, 4.086, 306.33 def. DeJoria, 4.107, 308.07;

SEMIFINALS — C. Pedregon, 4.593, 234.33 def. Beckman, 6.381, 153.16; Worsham, 4.178, 298.73 def. Hight, 5.753, 129.65;

FINAL — C. Pedregon, 4.126, 301.33 def. Worsham, 4.189, 296.70.

 

PRO STOCK:

ROUND ONE — Greg Anderson, Chevy Camaro, 6.554, 213.43 def. Jonathan Gray, Camaro, 27.572, 25.50; Dave Connolly, Camaro, 7.097, 210.24 def. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 7.273, 205.88; Jeg Coughlin, Dodge Dart, 10.769, 144.91 def. Kenny Delco, Chevy Cobalt, 16.303, 58.06; Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 7.788, 170.82 def. Larry Morgan, Ford Mustang, 9.916, 101.76; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.500, 214.45 def. John Gaydosh Jr, Pontiac GXP, 7.311, 202.42; Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.543, 214.01 def. V. Gaines, Dart, 12.730, 68.44; Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.519, 213.84 def. Allen Johnson, Dart, 7.808, 133.50; Erica Enders-Stevens, Camaro, 6.464, 214.89 def. Val Smeland, Cobalt, 8.972, 107.66;

QUARTERFINALS — Coughlin, 6.586, 213.91 def. S. Gray, 6.749, 212.66; Anderson, 7.906, 170.92 def. McGaha, 8.272, 189.26; Brogdon, 6.558, 214.04 def. Line, 6.599, 213.60; Connolly, 6.539, 213.91 def. Enders-Stevens, 6.509, 214.66;

SEMIFINALS — Anderson, 6.535, 214.25 def. Brogdon, 15.406, 54.34; Coughlin, 6.524, 213.60 def. Connolly, 6.535, 214.01;

FINAL — Coughlin, 6.510, 213.94 def. Anderson, 10.314, 88.65.

 

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE:

ROUND ONE — Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.826, 196.33 def. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.845, 195.39; Chaz Kennedy, Buell, 6.851, 194.16 def. Hector Arana, Buell, foul; Michael Ray, Buell, 6.831, 196.19 def. Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, 6.851, 191.48; John Hall, Buell, 6.800, 196.13 def. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.882, 194.49; Matt Smith, Buell, 6.834, 196.02 def. Shawn Gann, Buell, 16.139, 44.40; Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.774, 197.74 def. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, broke; Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.798, 197.91 def. Angie Smith, Buell, 6.867, 194.63; Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.770, 198.23 def. Adam Arana, Buell, broke;

QUARTERFINALS — M. Smith, 6.848, 195.99 def. Hall, 6.837, 194.77; Krawiec, 6.750, 198.90 def. Savoie, 6.860, 197.31; Arana Jr, 6.790, 198.47 def. Kennedy, 7.089, 190.35; Hines, 6.762, 197.65 def. Ray, 6.836, 195.11;

SEMIFINALS — Hines, 6.807, 195.62 def. Arana Jr, 6.827, 198.09; Krawiec, 6.801, 198.23 def. M. Smith, 7.225, 152.09;

FINAL — Hines, 6.828, 196.56 def. Krawiec, 6.837, 196.30.

IndyCar drivers say Thermal Club could host race after successful opening day to test

IndyCar Thermal race
Andy Abeyta/The Desert Sun / USA TODAY Sports Images
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THERMAL, Calif. – The “motorsports country club” passed the first test (figuratively and literally) with NTT IndyCar Series drivers pleased enough to proclaim The Thermal Club as race-eligible after its debut.

Though there were a few minor incidents on the 17-turn, 3.067-mile permanent road course east of Palm Springs in Southern California’s Coachella Valley, there was no significant damage for the 27 full-time cars that turned 1,119 laps Thursday.

Perhaps more importantly, drivers seemed to enjoy the ride around the track, which is unlike anything on the current circuit.

“I would love to race here,” said Chip Ganassi Racing rookie Marcus Armstrong, who posted the 10th-quickest time (1 minute, 39.9077 seconds) in the No. 11 Dallara-Honda that he will race on street and road courses after coming from the F2 Series. “I think it’s awesome. Would have to do a lot of neck training prior to the race because it’s much like a European circuit, quite demanding on the neck, towards the end of the lap anyway.

PRACTICE SPEEDS: First session l Second session l Combined

‘AN AMAZING PLACE’: IndyCar and its big plans for Thermal

“I think it’s cool. Very flowing, banked corners, banked high-speed corners. In terms of racing, it could be potentially not a lot of overtaking. You’d have to commit hard (in) maybe Turn 1. It wouldn’t be the easiest place to overtake. As a whole facility and circuit, it’s very enjoyable.”

Juncos Hollinger Racing No. 77 Chevrolet driver Callum Ilott, another F2 veteran who is entering his second year in IndyCar, was seventh fastest. Ilott said Thermal would “set a standard really of what we want to be doing with this series.

“It’s really, really high level, high tech,” said Ilott, whose rookie teammate Agustin Canapino went off course twice but incurred no major trouble. “As a circuit, yeah, it’s got a little bit different corners. I think the overtaking — we’ll find a way, we’re IndyCar — someone always sends it down the inside. I think if we can extend the straight and get some overtaking between Turn 6 and 7. It’s definitely a great circuit to drive and good fun and a bit different to the normal winter training we get in Florida. So I like the circuit.

“I think if we could, it would be good to race here once.”

Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta, who turned the fastest lap (1:39.3721) in his No. 26, also was optimistic despite the passing challenges.

“I think it really comes down to tire deg, what people are showing with that,” Herta said. “It will be tough to pass, right? A lot of the good braking zones, you’re coming off of high-speed corners, so it will be hard to follow.

“But you never know. I would say some of the tracks we go to would be terrible for racing, and IndyCar still puts on a great show. You never know until it’s tested and proven right or wrong.”

The possibility of adding an IndyCar race at The Thermal Club has been floated, but there would be some challenges. It likely would be a made-for-TV event given it’s a private club (and filled with multimillion-dollar homes filled with vintage cars). The test is closed to the public and open only to members and VIPs.

There also are some areas that would need to be improved, namely the galvanized steel Armco barriers that ring the track and generally are considered antiquated in motorsports.

“I think the Armco might propose a little bit of an issue,” Ilott said. “Again, it depends on what angle you’re hitting them obviously. It’s a pretty straightforward process to make it a bit safer and a bit more cushiony. I’m not in charge of that stuff. I just drive and try not to hit those things.

“I think it’s a straightforward process. To be fair, everyone has had a little moment today, spun and carried on. That’s a good start. Obviously there are anomalies, these things happen. So far, so good.”

Said Herta: For sure. It probably needs a little bit of work. They’ve already done a lot for us to come here already. It seems like if they do want to have a race here, they’re willing to put the work in and money in to upgrade the facility to make it a little bit safer for us.”

Christian Lundgaard of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing was second fastest (1:39.3767), followed by Alex Palou (1:39.3970) and Romain Grosjean (1:39.4826). Will Power was the top Chevrolet driver in fifth (1:39.5690).

Though Andretti had two of the top four times, Herta downplayed the significance other than getting reacclimated to his team.

“Just a lot of knocking the rust off,” he said. “It’s quite a long offseason without being in the car. I don’t know how much we’re really going to learn from running here. It’s really good to get the team back into it, get all the boys working again. Yeah, just get everybody back into the flow of it.

“It could be a huge shake-up when we go to St. Pete and who’s up front and who’s at the back. It is too early to tell. It’s nice just to be back in the car and get lap times down, get everybody working again.

“The track surface is very strange, very different to anything I’ve really felt in IndyCar. It’s seven first-gear corners. We don’t really have that many anywhere we go on a street course. It is quite a bit slower than our natural terrain courses. But I don’t want to be in here and dig it the whole time. It’s a fun track to drive, especially the back section. It keeps you on your toes. It doesn’t really replicate anything else that we go (race).”

The test will continue with another six-hour session Friday.