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


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.”


WHEN: Friday through Sunday, Aug. 20-23


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.


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.


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.

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Winner Josef Newgarden earns $3.666 million from a record Indy 500 purse of $17 million


INDIANAPOLIS — The first Indy 500 victory for Josef Newgarden also was the richest in race history from a record 2023 purse of just more than $17 million.

The two-time NTT IndyCar Series champion, who continued his celebration Monday morning at Indianapolis Motor Speedway earned $3.666 million for winning the 107th running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

The purse and winner’s share both are the largest in the history of the Indianapolis 500.

It’s the second consecutive year that the Indy 500 purse set a record after the 2022 Indy 500 became the first to crack the $16 million mark (nearly doubling the 2021 purse that offered a purse of $8,854,565 after a crowd limited to 135,000 because of the COVID-19 pandemic).

The average payout for IndyCar drivers was $500,600 (exceeding last year’s average of $485,000).

Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Roger Penske, whose team also fields Newgarden’s No. 2 Dallara-Chevrolet, had made raising purses a priority since buying the track in 2020. But Penske but was unable to post big money purses until the race returned to full capacity grandstands last year.

The largest Indy 500 purse before this year was $14.4 million for the 2008 Indy 500 won by Scott Dixon (whose share was $2,988,065). Ericsson’s haul made him the second Indy 500 winner to top $3 million (2009 winner Helio Castroneves won $3,048,005.

Runner-up Marcus Ericsson won $1.043 million after falling short by 0.0974 seconds in the fourth-closest finish in Indy 500 history.

The 107th Indy 500 drew a crowd of at least 330,000 that was the largest since the sellout for the 100th running in 2016, and the second-largest in more than two decades, according to track officials.

“This is the greatest race in the world, and it was an especially monumental Month of May featuring packed grandstands and intense on-track action,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said in a release. “Now, we have the best end card possible for the 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500: a record-breaking purse for the history books.”

Benjamin Pedersen was named the Indy 500 rookie of the year, earning a $50,000 bonus.

The race’s purse is determined through contingency and special awards from IMS and IndyCar. The awards were presented Monday night in the annual Indy 500 Victory Celebration at the JW Marriott in downtown Indianapolis.

The payouts for the 107th Indy 500:

1. Josef Newgarden, $3,666,000
2. Marcus Ericsson, $1,043,000
3. Santino Ferrucci, $481,800
4. Alex Palou, $801,500
5. Alexander Rossi, $574,000
6. Scott Dixon, $582,000
7. Takuma Sato, $217,300
8. Conor Daly, $512,000
9. Colton Herta, $506,500
10. Rinus VeeKay, $556,500
11. Ryan Hunter‐Reay, $145,500
12. Callum Ilott, $495,500
13. Devlin DeFrancesco, $482,000
14. Scott McLaughlin, $485,000
15. Helio Castroneves, $481,500
16. Tony Kanaan, $105,000
17. Marco Andretti, $102,000
18. Jack Harvey, $472,000
19. Christian Lundgaard, $467,500
20. Ed Carpenter, $102,000
21. Benjamin Pedersen (R), $215,300
22. Graham Rahal, $565,500*
23. Will Power, $488,000
24. Pato O’Ward, $516,500
25. Simon Pagenaud, $465,500
26. Agustín Canapino (R), $156,300
27. Felix Rosenqvist, $278,300
28. Kyle Kirkwood, $465,500
29. David Malukas, $462,000
30. Romain Grosjean, $462,000
31. Sting Ray Robb (R), $463,000
32. RC Enerson (R), $103,000
33.  Katherine Legge, $102,000

*–Broken down between two teams, $460,000 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, $105,500 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing/Cusick Motorsports