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GEICO/Lucas Oil's Crampton ready to get back to racing in Gainesville



GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 12) - Richie Crampton has been a busy man since last making a pass in NHRA competition in the GEICO/Lucas Oil Top Fuel dragster.

After the race in Phoenix, the team had a successful test, and then Crampton headed to his home country of Australia for a week.

Now, though, he is ready for this weekend's NHRA Gatornationals at Auto-Plus Raceway at Gainesville.

"We ran well on that Monday," Crampton said of the post-Phoenix test. "We seemed to get some stuff figured out. (Crew chief) Aaron (Brooks) was able to work through the bugs we were having with the clutch controller, and we went down the racetrack pretty well there, so confidence is pretty high going into Gainesville."

Crampton will have a teammate this weekend at Morgan Lucas Racing, as Morgan Lucas returns to drive the Lucas Oil/GEICO dragster.

"I'm pretty excited to get down there with Morgan competing at this same event," Crampton said. "We'll have two cars in the show and two cars of data to help with everything."

The extra data may be overwhelming, much like Crampton's "whirlwind" trip to his hometown of Adelaide. Crampton and Lucas Oil's Sam Dale traveled to Australia the week after the Phoenix race and attended the V8 Supercar race as guests of teams who use Lucas Oil.

"The Australian trip was great," Crampton said. "It was great to get home and see my family and friends. It was interesting for me to see the oil business side of things.

"I was treated very well by the V8 Supercar teams that we were hanging out with. I was even able to get a ride-along for some hot laps in the streets of my hometown in the car that won the race later that weekend."

Crampton rode with past V8 Supercar champion James Courtney, who ended up winning the race on the streets of Adelaide. Crampton drove many of those same streets when he lived there.

"A lot of the streets that the course was made up of are regular city streets during the week," Crampton said. "That was on old road I used to drive along when I lived back there. It's hard to visualize where you are when you're on the course with all the barriers and concrete walls and you're traveling around there at 180 mph, but it was a lot of fun, and I'm super lucky to have had that experience."

Crampton will enjoy another good experience this week when he attends the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Thursday because Forrest Lucas will be inducted into the Hall.

"It's going to be pretty cool to go to the Hall of Fame induction for Forrest," Crampton said. "That will be a neat little bonus for me."

Qualifying sessions for the NHRA Gatornationals will be held at noon and 2:15 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Eliminations kick off at 11 a.m., Sunday. ESPN2 will air the qualifying show at 1 a.m. EDT on Sunday and the eliminations show at 7 p.m.