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GEICO/Lucas Oil's Crampton drops first-round match in Las Vegas

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LAS VEGAS (March 30) - The learning experiences continue for GEICO/Lucas Oil Top Fuel dragster driver Richie Crampton after a first-round defeat at the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals on Sunday at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The 30-year-old from Adelaide, Australia - who is now an American citizen - was left scratching his head after falling to J.R. Todd due to a slower-than-usual reaction time and a slower-than-expected elapsed time.

"I was dead late on the Tree," Crampton said. "He ran an .82, which was a decent run. I've got a feeling we could've run a little better."

Crampton's pass was 3.837 seconds at 312.57 mph while Todd ran a 3.822 at 323.74 mph. The margin of victory was made a little wider after Crampton's unusual .154-second light, well above his average this season.

"The car moved around a little bit down at the other end," Crampton said. "We were spinning the tires, and it was pretty windy. We have to look back at the data and see what happened exactly. Maybe I drove it out of the groove and made it spin, or maybe the wind pushed me over."

Crampton qualified No. 6 after making three good passes earlier this weekend and was hopeful of scoring some round-wins in Las Vegas.

"I definitely was looking forward to winning some rounds today," Crampton said. "That's not how we wanted to race today for GEICO and Lucas Oil. They deserve round-wins and to be in the winner's circle. We're taking it pretty seriously, and we'll take a look at everything, test here tomorrow, and hope to do much better in Charlotte (N.C.)."

The GEICO/Lucas Oil team hopes for better conditions for its Monday test, as winds topped 30 mph Sunday.

"I've got a lot more learning to do tomorrow on the starting-line stuff," Crampton said. "We'll get there."

Crampton returns to racing at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals on April 11-13 in Charlotte.