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GEICO/Lucas Oil's Crampton looking for redemption in Las Vegas


LAS VEGAS (March 26) - GEICO/Lucas Oil Top Fuel dragster driver Richie Crampton is looking for a little redemption in Sin City.

After red-lighting in the first round of the most recent event in Gainesville, Fla., Crampton is itching to get back behind the wheel for this weekend's NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The loss was somewhat softened because his teammate Morgan Lucas won that round -- and another after that -- but Crampton wants round-wins, too.

"The team in general had a great weekend in Gainesville," Crampton said. "That was a little counterproductive for us because we're already keeping our eye on the points and we're 10th right now. We would've liked to have won that round, so I'm looking for a little redemption after my last run was a red-light. I can't wait to get back in the race car and make it right."

The Top Fuel rookie will make his first appearance in Las Vegas behind the wheel in what will be completely different conditions than either of the first three races of the season.

"(Crew chief) Aaron Brooks runs pretty good in Vegas historically, so I'm pretty confident we're going to go out there and do well," Crampton said. "I can't wait to get there."

Lucas ran his first race of the season in Gainesville, giving the Morgan Lucas Racing team another block of data, which helps because Crampton made only one run on Sunday.

"The cars are identical nowadays," Crampton said. "Every run we make we learn more and more. It didn't make a huge difference for the GEICO car, but we can definitely look at some data and learn a little more about how to run our car. The weather got a little hotter in Gainesville.

"Not everything we learned in Gainesville is going to transfer to Vegas anyway. Vegas is like racing at altitude, and it's a different animal when you get out to Vegas."

Vegas is a different animal in other ways, too, of course. Known for its fancy casinos, the city is a playground for many tourists from around the world. Crampton has been there several times as a crewmember for Lucas in past years, and he has left behind his share of cash, as he'll do again this weekend.

"I'll leave my traditional donation to keep the lights on in Las Vegas," Crampton said with a chuckle. "It'll be at the roulette table or somewhere, but I'm a terrible gambler. I only end up frustrated, so I'm going to try to keep the damage to a minimum."

Qualifying at the NHRA Nationals begins at 2 p.m. PST, Friday, and continues that day with another session at 5 p.m. Qualifying will wrap up with two sessions at 1:30 and 4:15 p.m., Saturday. Final eliminations start at 11 a.m., Sunday. ESPN2 will air the qualifying show at 5 p.m. EDT, Sunday, and the eliminations show at 8 p.m.