BRAINERD, Minn. — Australian Top Fuel rookie Richie Crampton may not have any family ties to Brainerd Int’l Raceway, but this weekend’s 33rd annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals feels very much like a hometown race.
Having the Lucas Oil name attached to the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event makes the race a big deal for Crampton, who has already piloted his GEICO/Lucas Oil dragster to one win in his first Top Fuel season. The incentive to do well is certainly there for Crampton for that reason, but also to enter the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship on a good note.
Currently sitting ninth in points, Crampton couldn’t come up with a better scenario to enter the upcoming Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals and the Countdown than a victory this weekend in Brainerd.
“It’s a hometown feel for everyone at Morgan Lucas Racing,” Crampton said. “Brainerd is a pretty special event for Lucas Oil and the Lucas family, and we always have a great time. It’s a big event to do well at and build some momentum for the Countdown. We just need to stay consistent and do well every run so we can gather all the information we can for Sunday. The way (crew chief) Aaron Brooks has the car running right now, it’s fun to go to every race.”
Spencer Massey (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car) and Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) were last year’s winners of the event. The race also serves as the 17th of 24 races during the 2014 season and is the penultimate stop in the regular season.
Crampton, who picked up his first career victory earlier at Englishtown, is one of the frontrunners for the Auto Club Road to the Future Award that goes to NHRA’s Rookie of the Year, but at the moment he is more concerned with getting ready for his first championship chase.
That starts with doing well in Brainerd coming off the heels of his first NHRA Western Swing where Crampton earned round victories at each of the three races, including a semifinal appearance in Sonoma.