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NHRA: Crampton, Beckman, Gray, Krawiec take home Gatornationals wins

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Richie Crampton (Top Fuel), Jack Beckman (Funny Car), Tanner Gray (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were the winners of this weekend’s Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, Florida.

The third race of the 24-race NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series national event series, the 49th Gatornationals saw significant surprises among the winners:

* Crampton earned his first Top Fuel win since October 2015 in Ennis, Texas.

* In a 20-plus year career, Beckman finally earned his first event win at Gainesville.

* Gray became a third-generation Pro Stock event winner at Gainesville, following in the footsteps of grandfather Johnny Gray and father Shane Gray.

* Krawiec opened the 2018 Pro Stock Motorcycle season (PSM runs at only 16 of the NHRA’s 24 national events) with his sixth career win at Gainesville.

MORE: NHRA: John Force-like motor explosions get contagious during Sunday’s Gatornationals

Here’s how the event played out:

* In Top Fuel, Crampton roared to the uncontested win when Shawn Reed shut off his dragster at the starting line before the start of the final round matchup.

Crampton earned his first win since joining Kalitta Motorsports with 7 races remaining last season with a pass of 3.854 seconds at 314.90 mph.

In addition, it was the 96th all-time win in 50-plus years for Kalitta Motorsports, and Crampton becomes the 10th different driver to earn at least one win for the Kalitta organization over the years.

“This is probably one of my most rewarding wins, ever,” Crampton said. “All I ever wanted to do was stand in the winner’s circle with (team owner) Connie Kalitta. Not a lot of people have had that luxury and I’m not taking this one lightly.”

In Funny Car, Beckman got the jump on Don Schumacher Racing teammate Matt Hagan at the starting line and sailed to a winning run of 4.035 seconds at 323.58 mph.

It’s Beckman’s first win since last fall in St. Louis.

“Winning this race was such a bucket-list thing,” Beckman said. “The Gatornationals came on the schedule in 1970, that year was a big year for our sport and it has been at this track ever since and I’ve never gotten close.”

In Pro Stock, Gray covered the dragstrip in 6.588 seconds at 210.18 mph, defeating defending world champ Bo Butner.

“We’ve been struggling since the beginning of the season,” Gray said. “Today was our first-round win of the season. It has definitely been a struggle, but I think it is starting to come around.”

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Krawiec won for the third consecutive year and sixth time overall at Gainesville.

Krawiec, who qualified No. 2, covered the track in 6.824 seconds at 198.44 mph.

“Right now, I’m riding with the confidence that no one can beat me,” Krawiec said. “I have a great motorcycle underneath me and a great team behind me. Anytime a rider or a driver has confidence it just makes them that much better.”

The next NHRA national event will be the DENSO Spark Plug NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway April 6-8 in Las Vegas.

It will be the first time The Strip will host a four-wide event, making it the second track in the NHRA to host a four-wide race. The other track is The Strip’s sister facility, zMax Dragway in Concord, North Carolina.

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FINAL FINISHING ORDER:

TOP FUEL: 1. Richie Crampton; 2. Shawn Reed; 3. Clay Millican; 4. Antron Brown; 5. Leah Pritchett; 6. Terry McMillen; 7. Tony Schumacher; 8. Mike Salinas; 9. Brittany Force; 10. Doug Kalitta; 11. Scott Palmer; 12. Pat Dakin; 13. Terry Haddock; 14. Terry Totten; 15. Audrey Worm; 16. Steve Torrence.

FUNNY CAR: 1. Jack Beckman; 2. Matt Hagan; 3. Ron Capps; 4. Shawn Langdon; 5. Del Worsham; 6. Robert Hight; 7. Tommy Johnson Jr.; 8. Courtney Force; 9. Bob Tasca III; 10. Cruz Pedregon; 11. Gary Densham; 12. Jim Campbell; 13. John Force; 14. Tim Wilkerson; 15. Dave Richards; 16. J.R. Todd.

PRO STOCK: 1. Tanner Gray; 2. Bo Butner; 3. Drew Skillman; 4. Vincent Nobile; 5. Chris McGaha; 6. Val Smeland; 7. Alan Prusiensky; 8. Greg Anderson; 9. Deric Kramer; 10. Jeg Coughlin; 11. Alex Laughlin; 12. John Gaydosh Jr; 13. Erica Enders; 14. Wally Stroupe; 15. Kenny Delco; 16. Jason Line.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1. Eddie Krawiec; 2. Andrew Hines; 3. Hector Arana; 4. Scotty Pollacheck; 5. Cory Reed; 6. Steve Johnson; 7.  Karen Stoffer; 8. Angelle Sampey; 9. Jerry Savoie; 10. Angie Smith; 11. Ryan Oehler; 12. Hector Arana Jr; 13. Jim Underdahl; 14. Joey Gladstone; 15. Mark Paquette; 16. LE Tonglet.

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FINAL RESULTS:

TOP FUEL: Richie Crampton, 3.854 seconds, 314.90 mph def. Shawn Reed, Broke.

FUNNY CAR: Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 4.035, 323.58 def. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.034, 322.04.

PRO STOCK: Tanner Gray, Chevy Camaro, 6.588, 210.18 def. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.605, 210.34.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.824, 198.44 def. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.853, 197.19.

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FINAL ROUND-BY-ROUND RESULTS:

TOP FUEL: ROUND ONE — Shawn Reed, 3.830, 322.65 def. Pat Dakin, 3.892, 296.96; Terry McMillen, 3.763, 328.46 def. Scott Palmer, 3.777, 325.53; Leah Pritchett, 3.735, 321.50 def. Terry Haddock, 4.032, 284.75; Antron Brown, 5.162, 191.05 def. Audrey Worm, 8.482, 63.53; Mike Salinas, 3.793, 327.98 def. Steve Torrence, Foul – Centerline; Clay Millican, 3.792, 330.88 def. Terry Totten, 8.175, 78.08; Tony Schumacher, 3.717, 329.26 def. Brittany Force, 3.742, 329.10; Richie Crampton, 3.776, 317.49 def. Doug Kalitta, 3.769, 327.98; QUARTERFINALS — Crampton, 4.413, 258.81 def. Salinas, Foul – Centerline; Millican, 3.758, 331.28 def. McMillen, 3.831, 325.37; Reed, 4.027, 245.58 def. Schumacher, 4.604, 200.77; Brown, 3.793, 324.20 def. Pritchett, 3.779, 327.51; SEMIFINALS — Crampton, 5.097, 204.85 def. Brown, 6.132, 196.62; Reed, 4.030, 301.94 def. Millican, 4.934, 156.21; FINAL — Crampton, 3.854, 314.90 def. Reed, Broke.

FUNNY CAR: ROUND ONE — Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger, 3.995, 325.69 def. Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 4.083, 298.87; Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.894, 330.55 def. Dave Richards, Ford Mustang, 8.232, 85.43; Courtney Force, Camaro, 4.003, 277.20 def. John Force, Camaro, 4.218, 232.71; Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.934, 327.43 def. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.183, 305.29; Shawn Langdon, Camry, 3.943, 324.75 def. Gary Densham, Mustang, 4.145, 273.61; Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.976, 328.38 def. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 7.821, 131.27; Ron Capps, Charger, 3.959, 324.28 def. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 3.981, 325.30; Del Worsham, Camry, 4.013, 324.75 def. J.R. Todd, Camry, Broke; QUARTERFINALS — Capps, 4.060, 317.64 def. C. Force, 8.255, 88.83; Hagan, 4.027, 291.26 def. Hight, 4.067, 265.53; Beckman, 3.973, 318.54 def. Worsham, 4.032, 315.56; Langdon, 4.025, 313.37 def. Johnson Jr., 4.841, 172.10; SEMIFINALS — Hagan, 4.056, 310.91 def. Capps, 9.134, 81.86; Beckman, 4.478, 199.35 def. Langdon, 9.414, 81.39; FINAL — Beckman, 4.035, 323.58 def. Hagan, 4.034, 322.04.

PRO STOCK: ROUND ONE — Drew Skillman, Chevy Camaro, 6.571, 211.66 def. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.757, 208.39; Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.568, 210.14 def. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 11.537, 76.81; Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.577, 210.77 def. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.569, 210.24; Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.573, 210.54 def. Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.602, 207.34; Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, 6.731, 206.64 def. Jason Line, Camaro, 25.114, 29.77; Val Smeland, Camaro, 6.733, 205.60 def. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, Foul – Red Light; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.567, 210.41 def. Wally Stroupe, Camaro, 7.049, 196.93; Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.603, 210.93 def. John Gaydosh Jr., Chevrolet Camaro, 6.656, 207.88; QUARTERFINALS — Gray, 6.612, 209.69 def. McGaha, 6.621, 210.08; Butner, 6.593, 210.14 def. Prusiensky, 6.905, 169.38; Nobile, 6.614, 209.88 def. Smeland, 6.679, 207.18; Skillman, 6.613, 210.28 def. Anderson, 9.278, 106.32; SEMIFINALS — Gray, 8.315, 179.52 def. Nobile, 12.836, 81.64; Butner, 6.623, 209.39 def. Skillman, 6.642, 210.05; FINAL — Gray, 6.588, 210.18 def. Butner, 6.605, 210.34.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: ROUND ONE — Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.935, 194.69 def. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.880, 196.13; Angelle Sampey, 6.902, 194.94 def. Ryan Oehler, Buell, 6.943, 191.29; Cory Reed, 6.953, 191.95 def. Hector Arana Jr., Buell, 6.945, 198.38; Scotty Pollacheck, Suzuki, 8.303, 115.65 def. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, Foul – Red Light; Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.844, 197.86 def. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 9.070, 102.07; Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.809, 199.52 def. Mark Paquette, 7.008, 190.43; Hector Arana, Buell, 6.914, 195.70 def. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 7.005, 190.16; Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.920, 196.10 def. Angie Smith, Buell, Foul – Red Light; QUARTERFINALS — Pollacheck, 6.875, 196.44 def. Reed, 6.925, 192.30; Arana, 6.874, 197.88 def. Stoffer, 6.981, 192.36; Krawiec, 6.852, 197.80 def. Johnson, 6.929, 194.46; Hines, 6.857, 197.71 def. Sampey, 7.077, 165.46; SEMIFINALS — Hines, 6.868, 196.96 def. Pollacheck, 7.044, 193.54; Krawiec, 6.852, 197.68 def. Arana, 6.969, 197.25; FINAL — Krawiec, 6.824, 198.44 def. Hines, 6.853, 197.19.

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POINT STANDINGS:

TOP FUEL: 1. Steve Torrence, 217; 2. Antron Brown, 210; 3. Clay Millican, 204; 4. Tony Schumacher, 198; 5. Doug Kalitta, 182; 6. Richie Crampton, 163; 7. Scott Palmer, 161; 8. Leah Pritchett, 147; 9. Brittany Force, 117; 10. Terry McMillen, 116.

FUNNY CAR: 1. Matt Hagan, 268; 2. Jack Beckman, 247; 3. Courtney Force, 219; 4. Ron Capps, 218; 5. Robert Hight, 185; 6. Tommy Johnson Jr., 182; 7. Shawn Langdon, 174; 8. (tie) Jonnie Lindberg, 117; J.R. Todd, 117; 10. Del Worsham, 116.

PRO STOCK: 1. Bo Butner, 245; 2. Jason Line, 232; 3. Chris McGaha, 213; 4. (tie) Deric Kramer, 190; Drew Skillman, 190; 6. Greg Anderson, 186; 7. Tanner Gray, 176; 8. Alex Laughlin, 175; 9. Vincent Nobile, 170; 10. Erica Enders, 166.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1. Eddie Krawiec, 123; 2. Andrew Hines, 107; 3. Scotty Pollacheck, 76; 4. Hector Arana, 71; 5. (tie) Steve Johnson, 53; Angelle Sampey, 53; 7. Karen Stoffer, 52; 8. Cory Reed, 51; 9. Joey Gladstone, 39; 10. Hector Arana Jr, 38.

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Could Scott Dixon someday break Foyt, Andretti wins and championships records?

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With five races left in the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season, Scott Dixon is in the driver’s seat to potentially earn a fifth career IndyCar championship.

After winning Sunday at Toronto, Dixon now has a 62-point edge over second-ranked and defending series champ Josef Newgarden and a 70-point lead over third-ranked Alexander Rossi.

The triumph north of the border was Dixon’s third there, as well as his 44th career IndyCar win, third-highest in IndyCar annals.

Add in the four IndyCar championships and those are stellar numbers indeed.

What makes things all the more amazing is Dixon has done all that in under 18 full seasons on the IndyCar circuit. Heck, he’s only 37 years old, too (although he turns 38 on July 22).

Dixon’s championships have come in 2003 (his first full season in IndyCar after two prior seasons in CART/Champ Car), 2008, 2013 and most recently in 2015.

The quiet, unassuming New Zealander has been one of the most successful drivers ever not just in IndyCar, but in all forms of motorsports.

When his name is mentioned, it’s typically included with the only two drivers who have more career wins than he does: A.J. Foyt (67 wins and seven championships, both records) and Mario Andretti (52 wins and four titles).

That’s a pretty lofty pair to be part of.

One might think that after all the success he’s had, Dixon could easily walk away from IndyCar and Chip Ganassi Racing and enjoy an early retirement.

But competing in and winning races isn’t really a job for Dixon. He enjoys what he’s doing so much that he easily could keep doing what he’s doing – and at a high level – for another seven or more years, at least.

So, can Dixon catch Mario and A.J.? The former would be easier than the latter, for sure.

Numerically, it’s possible – at least part of it:

* Dixon can easily be competitive into his mid-40s.

* He’s averaged three-plus wins every season since 2007 (37 wins from then through Sunday). That means if he can keep that average going, he could reach 24 more wins – to overtake Foyt – by 2026. Yes, that may be a stretch to even imagine, but if there’s any current driver who potentially could overtake Foyt, it’s Dixon.

* Dixon already has three wins this season, and with five more races still to go, he could easily win another one, two or maybe even three more in 2018 as he continues his road to the championship. And let’s not forget that with each additional win, that’s one win closer to overtaking Andretti and Foyt.

In his usual modest and humble manner, Dixon downplays not just talk comparing him with Andretti and Foyt, but also overtaking one or both.

“I think A.J. is pretty safe,” he said. “He’s a long ways ahead. … Eight (championships) is an infinity away. Takes a long time to get eight.”

But that doesn’t mean Dixon can’t keep working at approaching Foyt’s mark.

“I think for us, we take it race by race,” he said. “We’re in the business of winning races. If we’re not doing that, I won’t have a job for too long. That’s the focus for right now.”

If he wins the championship this year, he’ll pass Andretti’s championship mark. That would be one record down, three to go.

And if he can win nine more races over the next few seasons, he’ll pass Andretti’s 52 career wins, making it two records down and two more to go.

“Right now with 44 wins, next on the list is Mario I think at 52 or something,” Dixon said after Sunday’s win. “We’ll see how it goes. Right now, we’re just trying to get the job done for the team.”

And he’s doing a darn good job at that indeed – with likely even more success still to come.

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