Star Status for Aussie at Englishtown
Rookie Australian racer Richie Crampton delivered exactly what NHRA Championship drag racing needs (more international presence) by winning in Top Fuel at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park last Sunday….
The class Top Fuel newcomer gave his Rookie of the Year bid a giant boost by winning the 45th annual Toyota NHRA Summernationals. Cruz Pedegon (Funny Car), Jeg Coughlin (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also earned victory within the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series circuit.
Crampton beat points leader Doug Kalitta in a thrilling final round, 3.819 to 3.848, becoming just the second Australian-born pro winner in NHRA history.
“Has this really happened?” Crampton said. “I’m absolutely over the moon with this win. I already know I’m the luckiest guy in the pit and now we’ve proven it. This is beyond anything I could have ever imagined to go from a crew guy to standing here with a Wally (trophy) in just a few months time.
“I’m so humbled that GEICO, Lucas Oil, and Toyota showed faith in me and gave me this awesome opportunity. I’m really quite stunned at the moment.”
Adding a special twist to the occasion, Crampton’s father Al was on the starting line for the memorable moment. Crampton’s parents are visiting from Adelaide, South Australia, primarily to help with new baby girl Emma, whom Crampton and his longtime girlfriend Stephanie Laski welcomed into the world on May 20th.
“The timing was perfect,” Crampton said. “I had a really tearful moment with Dad at the top end when he arrived down there. He’s the reason I’m racing. The sacrifices him and my mum (June) made taking me to go-kart races and the drags back home when I was a boy, all the encouragement, I simply wouldn’t be here without them.
“The only problem is Mum’s back in Indiana with Stephanie and she’ll be quite upset she missed this, I’m sure. I can’t wait to get home and share this moment with everyone there.”
When he takes a moment to reflect on this victory, Crampton will realize he earned the hardware. After qualifying No. 2 on the grid, he seemed to be the clear favorite in the opening round until he noticed his right front wheel was going flat as he backed up from the prerace burnout.
“I’d never had that happen, so I didn’t know whether to give up or just go for it,” he said. “I decided to just go and it was surprising how well the car steered considering the rubber was shredding the entire way down the track.”
Crampton then had to pedal his car in both the quarter- and semi-finals to get to the other end, outdriving JR Todd and reigning world champion Shawn Langdon in the process.
The final against top qualifier Kalitta was a straight-up drag race with Crampton winning with a 3.819 at 320.51 mph to Kalitta’s 3.848 at 317.34 mph. Including the reaction times, Crampton’s margin of victory was just .009-second.
Kalitta was appearing in his fifth final of the season in his Mac Tools dragster. Despite the defeat, Kalitta increased his points lead over second place Antron Brown to 103 points.
All Toyotas – All the Time!
Pedregon was the class of the Funny Car field all weekend, going from No. 1 qualifier to the race victory with a performance of 4.126 at 301.33 in his Snap-on Tools Toyota Camry over Del Worsham in his DHL Camry in the final. The win was a relief for Pedregon, whose team has struggled early this season.
“It was a tremendous points day,” said Pedregon. “To say I’m excited and happy would be an understatement, but I also feel relieved a little bit. We’ve dug ourselves a pretty good hole this year.”
The win was Pedregon’s 35th of his career and first of the season. With the victory, Pedregon tied NHRA legend Don Prudhomme for fourth on the all-time Funny Car wins list.
“Prudhomme is my hero, and it means a lot [to tie him],” Pedregon said. “I’ve been doing this a long time. I’ve had plenty of opportunities, but I think my biggest accomplishment is the fact that I have been doing it so long in different scenarios. To be able to do this at this level and maintain it 20 years later means everything to me.”
Another Score for Champ & Mopar
Coughlin secured his second Pro Stock win of the season and 58th of his career by defeating Greg Anderson in the final round with a 6.510 at 213.94 in his JEGS.com/Mopar Dodge Dart.
For Jeg it was his 58th career Pro Stock national title after reaching the final round of eliminations for a third consecutive event. The defending NHRA factory hot rod world champion has been on a tear, jumping from ninth place in the points standings to second with his two wins and a runner-up finish, combining with his teammate, Allen Johnson, to put the new Dodge Dart in the winner’s circle at each of the last three events.
“These last three weekends have been a helluva hat trick for J&J Racing, winning all three races,” said Coughlin who earned both his wins this season against Greg Anderson in the final round, this time with an elapsed time run of 6.510 seconds (213.94 mph). “I got Atlanta and Englishtown and A.J. won in Topeka, so we’re on a great run.”
“Congratulations to Jeg Coughlin Jr. on his drive to the winner’s circle at the Summernationals to continue this fantastic streak of wins for the Dodge Dart and his second of the year.” said Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO of Mopar, Chrysler Group’s service, parts and customer-care brand. “A third consecutive win for the Dodge Dart definitely helps validate all the hard work that the Mopar teams have put in with the new vehicle. We look forward to seeing what more Jeg and Allen can do with HEMI and new Dodge Dart combination in such a competitive Pro Stock field.”
The win was hard fought after only five of the 16 Pro Stock qualifiers completed runs under full power in the opening round. Track conditions even claimed Mopar teammate and No.1 qualifier Johnson as a victim in his first round match-up against Chris McGaha, after previously resetting the track record two days in a row in qualifying with the Magneti Marelli Dodge Dart at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park. Fellow HEMI-powered driver V.Gaines also succumbed in the first round against Shane Gray. Coughlin also wasn’t able to make a clean run but persevered to beat his first round opponent Kenny Delco to the stripe.
“That was a scare,” Coughlin said. “Kenny’s a hometown hero and I know they wanted to win. The track just wasn’t there and neither of us managed to launch correctly. It was some violent shake and I had to let the car settle before I was able to get back on the gas and get down the track. Those moments seem to last forever.
“The guys worked on it, softened the launch sequence a touch, and we came back and ran a decent 6.586 against Shane Gray,” Coughlin added. “We worked on it some more and really had a pass against Dave Connolly in a great side-by-side race (6.524 to 6.535 second e.t.) and that got us to the final. We had the kind of conditions that Pro Stock cars love today with a great barometer and not a cloud in the sky but you had to work for it.”
Mopar teammates Coughlin and Johnson are currently tied for second (668) in the Pro Stock points race and have combined for five national titles for Mopar this season to date.
Erica Enders-Stevens had a great weekend performance-wise in her Elite Motorsports Chevy Camaro as she reset both ends of the Pro Stock national record with her 6.646 second ET and 215.55 mph speed.
Hines defeated Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson teammate Eddie Krawiec to take the Pro Stock Motorcycle victory. It was the second win for Hines at Raceway Park.
“We are back,” Hines said. “I think we put an exclamation point on that this weekend. We’ve been digging the last year and a half to get back to where we were. I’ve always said that racing gets in the way of our R&D and this winter we had a chance to get a lot of work done and we’re starting to reap the benefits.”
A three-time Pro Stock Motorcycle world champion, Hines recorded his second win of the season and 34th of his career. He leaves Englishtown having increased his points lead.
“All the Rage” in Pro Mod
Von Smith raced to his first victory of the season and sixth of his career during the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series portion of the Toyota NHRA Summernationals, presented by Powerocks.
Smith, the No. 5 qualifier, drove his supercharged Al-Anabi Racing/Dr. Moon 69’ Camaro to a 5.966-second pass at 241.58 mph defeating No. 14 seed Jason Hamstra in the final. It was Smith’s second consecutive Pro Mod final round appearance.
Smith defeated Troy Coughlin, Clint Satterfield and Eric Latino en route to the final. Smith is the 2010 NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series world champion.
EVENT ESSENTIALS: 45th Toyota Summernationals (May 29-June 1st) Englishtown NJ
|Low ET:||Doug Kalitta||3.748|
|Top Speed:||Doug Kalitta||327.66|
|Low ET:||Cruz Pedregon||3.959|
|Top Speed:||Del Worsham||321.04|
|Low ET:||Erica Enders-Stevens||6.464|
|Top Speed:||Jason Line||215.55|
|Pro Stock Motorcycle|
|Low ET:||Eddie Krawiec||6.747|
|Top Speed:||Andrew Hines||199.23|
|Low ET:||Rickie Smith||5.832|
|Top Speed:||Kevin Fiscus||251.58|
Posted with files from Rob Geiger, Pat Caporali, Bruce Biegler & NHRA Communications
Photos by: Bruce Biegler, Dave DeAngelis & Steve Embling
The Lucas Oil Lowdown
In the final results from the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series national event, Scotty Richardson, Barbourville, Ky., took home his 38th career win and Val DiGenova, Derry, N.H., received his first Top Dragster win at the 45th Annual Toyota NHRA Summernationals.
Richardson, who has one other previous win in Comp, took on Calvin Hill, Tamaqua, Pa., in the Comp Eliminator final round. Hill, who was the runner up here last year, has one win in Comp that was in Reading, Pa., in 2012. Richardson, driving Vinny Barone’s car, had a final round run of 8.069 seconds, 152.00 mph. Richardson was quicker off the line and stayed out in front for the win over Hill who clocked in at 8.163 seconds, 147.41 mph.
DiGenova worked his way through the field and ran 6.835 seconds at 195.05 mph in his final round victory over Kara Stricker, Dowington, Pa., who clocked in at 6.533 seconds, 206.54 mph. This was DiGenova’s second national event Wally trophy and his first in Top Dragster. DiGenova had the starting line advantage over Stricker and took the win by 0.0183 seconds.
Other racers visiting the winner’s circle this weekend were James Fontana, Oceanside, N.Y., in Super Stock over Marty Rinehart; Katie Sepanek, Moosic, Pa., beat Russell Linke, in Stock Eliminator; Stephen Logan, Marshfield, Ma., won in Super Comp against Doug Doll Jr; and John Olson, Springfield, N.J., took out Ken Bowers, in the Super Gas final.
To view additional photos from NHRA Englishtown see the DragRaceCanada event photo gallery: HERE