NHRA: Top Fuel driver Richie Crampton enjoying sophomore trump, not slump

2 Comments

No matter if it’s on four or two wheels, many racers experience a sophomore slump in their second full-time season as a pro.

But NHRA Top Fuel driver Richie Crampton is having a sophomore trump, you might say, as he keeps getting better and better.

Crampton enters this weekend’s Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in Brainerd (Minn.) International Raceway, ranked fourth in the Top Fuel driver standings.

Sure, he’s a distant 320 points behind Top Fuel points leader Tony Schumacher, but Crampton proves with every race that he is not only a force to be reckoned with now, but will continue to be for many seasons to come.

In the first 16 races of the 24-race NHRA schedule, Crampton has amassed three wins (Las Vegas, Topeka and Bristol), picking up from where he left off in 2014, when he was named the sport’s top rookie driver.

Next on his agenda is to qualify for the six-race Countdown to the Championship, NHRA’s championship playoff series.

“Our focus is on race day consistency and not trying to change too much,” Crampton said in an NHRA media release. “We have a good race car right now, and we need to focus on every little detail and continue doing what we’ve been doing.

“The entire team is excited about the outlook of the Countdown, given our current position in points. We’re going to try to put an exclamation point on that.”

Crampton’s teammate, Morgan Lucas, is defending Top Fuel winner at Brainerd (as well as Funny Car’s Ron Capps and Pro Stock’s Jason Line).

“A lot of the pressure of being the new guy is obviously gone now,” Crampton said. “There’s no pressure to win the rookie of the year award.

“My comfort level is a lot higher inside the race car and outside the race. All of that being said, being able to just concentrate on going and racing each event is where I’m at right now.”

Doing well at Brainerd is important. Not only is Crampton part of the Morgan Lucas Racing team, its primary sponsor, Lucas Oil, is also the event’s primary sponsor, as well.

“Racing in Brainerd is huge to the entire MLR team and any Lucas Oil car, for that matter,” Crampton said. “Particularly for me, driving for the Lucas family and coming back to a racetrack where the Lucas team has had a lot of success – and also where we have a lot of fun with the amazing fans – is very exciting. It’s one of the highlights of the tour for the Lucas team.

“We have the staff, we have great racecars that we build ourselves, and we have all the resources we need to try and contend for a championship.”

LUCAS OIL NHRA NATIONALS FACT SHEET

WHEN: Friday through Sunday, Aug. 20-23

TELEVISION:      

Saturday, Aug. 22, ESPN2 will televise two hours of qualifying coverage at 11 p.m. (ET).

Sunday, Aug. 23, ESPN2 will televise three hours of eliminations coverage starting at 9 p.m. (ET).

2014 EVENT WINNERS: Morgan Lucas, Top Fuel; Ron Capps, Funny Car; Jason Line, Pro Stock.

MOST VICTORIES: John Force, 11, FC; Joe Amato, 6, TF; Kenny Bernstein, 5, FC/TF; Antron Brown, 5, TF/PSM; Ron Capps, 4, FC; Jeg Coughlin, 4, PS;.

TRACK RECORDS:            

Top Fuel – 3.722 sec. by Doug Kalitta, Aug. ’14; 328.54 mph by Richie Crampton, Aug. ’14.

Funny Car – 3.998 sec. by Alexis DeJoria, Aug. ’14; 320.89 mph by John Force, Aug. ’14.

Pro Stock – 6.542 sec. by Erica Enders, Aug. ’12; 210.87 mph by Allen Johnson, Aug. ’12.

Pro Stock Motorcycle – 6.865 sec. by Andrew Hines, Aug. ’12; 196.82 mph by Andrew Hines, Aug. ’05.

NATIONAL RECORDS:    

Top Fuel – 3.701 sec. by Antron Brown, Oct. ‘12, Reading, Pa.; 332.51 mph by Larry Dixon, June ’15, Norwalk, Ohio.

Funny Car – 3.921 sec. by Jack Beckman, Aug. ’15, Sonoma, Calif.; 325.06 mph by Courtney Force, May ’15, Topeka, Kan.

Pro Stock – 6.455 sec. by Jason Line, March ’15, Charlotte, N.C.; 215.55 mph by Erica Enders, May ‘14, Englishtown N.J.

PS Motorcycle – 6.728 sec. by Andrew Hines, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.; 199.88mph by Hector Arana Jr., April ’15, Charlotte, N.C.

POINTS STANDINGS

Top Fuel: 1.  Tony Schumacher, 1,289*; 2.  Antron Brown, 1,202*; 3.  Larry Dixon, 1,034; 4.  Richie Crampton, 969; 5.  Doug Kalitta, 944; 6.  J.R. Todd, 896; 7.  Shawn Langdon, 872; 8.  Spencer Massey, 855; 9. Brittany Force, 851; 10.  Steve Torrence, 835.

Funny Car: 1.  Matt Hagan, 1,177*; 2.  Jack Beckman, 1,172*; 3.  Tommy Johnson Jr., 1,063; 4.  John Force, 1,025; 5.  Del Worsham, 1,004; 6.  Ron Capps, 988; 7.  Cruz Pedregon, 872; 8.  Tim Wilkerson, 870; 9.  (tie) Alexis DeJoria, 819; Robert Hight, 819.

Pro Stock: 1.  Greg Anderson, 1,322*; 2.  Erica Enders, 1,271*; 3.  Chris McGaha, 1,175*; 4.  Jason Line, 1,102*; 5.  Allen Johnson, 951; 6.  Larry Morgan, 906; 7.  Shane Gray, 834; 8.  Jonathan Gray, 823; 9.  Vincent Nobile, 787; 10.  Drew Skillman, 779.

Pro Stock Motorcycle: 1.  Eddie Krawiec, 702; 2.  Hector Arana Jr, 596; 3.  Andrew Hines, 546; 4.  Karen Stoffer, 468; 5. Jim Underdahl, 459; 6.  Jerry Savoie, 429; 7.  Hector Arana, 417; 8.  Matt Smith, 389; 9.  Scotty Pollacheck, 376; 10.  Angelle Sampey, 336.

* Secured a berth in Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship, NHRA’s six-race playoffs.

Follow @JerryBonkowski