NHRA: Bet on Richie Crampton if he reaches the final round at Vegas


When you’re going to Las Vegas riding a 7-out-of-7 streak, let’s just say it’s likely the odds favor you extending said streak.

Such is the case with Top Fuel driver Richie Crampton. Following his win this past Sunday at Texas Motorplex, last year’s Rookie of the Year has high hopes for next week’s fifth race in the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoff.

His win at Texas makes the Australian native a perfect 7-0 in final elimination rounds. Ergo, he now has seven career records in the Top Fuel class, including five this season.

The victory also moved him into third place in the Top Fuel rankings, but he’s still 203 points behind series leader Antron Brown, who won the previous three Countdown races before Crampton’s heroics this past Sunday.

richie crampton head shot 2015
Richie Crampton (Photo courtesy NHRA)

“We’re trying very hard to have the best finish possible in the points,” Crampton said in an NHRA media release. “We need to be better than everyone else we face. It would help our cause tremendously to bag a few more wins before the year is out.

“It’s already been a dream season but we want more. There are (two) more race days on the schedule, so we have (two) more chances to show our stuff. We’re hungry for more, no question.”

Next up for Crampton is the NHRA Toyota Nationals next weekend in Sin City, where Crampton is already eyeing an eighth final round triumph, as well as a sixth win in 2015.

“Whenever you give (crew chief) Aaron Brooks and my Lucas Oil guys three shots at a racetrack on Sunday, you’re probably going to have a pretty good car for the final round,” Crampton said. “I just fed off that confidence that we haven’t been beat in a final round yet and it’s still surreal to me to have that stat. I can’t say enough about my guys and that really helps my confidence.”

Crampton has earned victories this season in Las Vegas, Topeka, Bristol, Brainerd and most recently Ennis, Texas. He’d love to add another win or two at Las Vegas and/or the season-ending event at Pomona, Calif. next month.

“We’ve got the hot rod to get the job done, and I’d match up our crew against any other one out there,” Crampton said. “It’s just so tough to win these things. To have (five) trophies this season and (seven) overall in less than two years of driving is crazy.

“I know a lot of people go years, sometimes their entire careers, without winning a single race. It speaks to the talent of (crew chief) Aaron Brooks and this group of guys.”

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AJ Foyt Racing promotes Benjamin Pedersen from Indy Lights to IndyCar for 2023 season

Benjamin Pedersen AJ Foyt
AJ Foyt Racing

Benjamin Pedersen is the first driver to land a promotion from Indy Lights into IndyCar for next season as AJ Foyt Racing confirmed Wednesday he’ll be part of its 2023 lineup.

Pedersen, a 23-year-old dual citizen of Denmark and the United States, spent last season running the full Indy Lights schedule for HMD Motorsports. Linus Lundqvist, his teammate, won the Lights title, and Pedersen finished fifth in the final standings. Pedersen earned his only win earlier this month when he led every lap from the pole at Portland.

Pedersen also ran four races for HMD in 2021 with back-to-back runner-up finishes in his debut. Pedersen landed on AJ Foyt Racing team president Larry Foyt’s radar through a “trusted colleague” and Pedersen spent most of last season shadowing the IndyCar team.

His promotion to IndyCar comes ahead of all four drivers who finished ahead of him in the Indy Lights standings, including champion Lundqvist.

“We are really looking forward to having Benjamin as part of the team,” Larry Foyt said. “His enthusiasm is infectious, and he is 100 percent committed to IndyCar, AJ Foyt Racing, and doing the best he can to win races.

“It’s been great to have him embedded with the team this past season, and everyone is excited to hit the ground running when testing begins. It is also great to have a multi-year program in place, which will help him and the team grow together.”

Foyt did not announce a car number for Pedersen. Kyle Kirkwood spent his rookie season driving AJ Foyt’s flagship No. 14 but Kirkwood is moving to Andretti Autosport. The team has not yet announced if Dalton Kellett will return for a fourth season, and a third car for Tatiana Calderon was pulled from competition after seven races because of sponsorship non-payment. Shutting down Calderon’s team removed the only semi-regular female driver from the IndyCar field.

Pedersen, however, was signed to an agreement Foyt said “spans multiple seasons as the team plans to develop the young rookie and is aligned to a longer-term plan for AJ Foyt Racing.”

Pedersen was born in Copenhagen but raised in Seattle and currently lives in Indianapolis. He said his time shadowing the IndyCar team has given him a jump on his rookie preparations.

“I’ve spent a lot of time this season with AJ Foyt Racing learning the ins and outs of making the jump to IndyCar and it’s been really nice to do that in conjunction with my Indy Lights season,” Pedersen said. “IndyCar has been my target goal since I started open wheel racing in 2016. The racing, atmosphere, fans, events, tracks, etc. are all awesome.”