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Brogdon, team looking for complete run

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (April 12) - In the mind of GEICO/Lucas Oil Top Fuel dragster driver Richie Crampton, he has driven a Funny Car, Pro Stock, and Pro Stock Motorcycle during this weekend's NHRA Four-Wide Nationals.

That's because Crampton, the No. 11 qualifier for Sunday's eliminations, spent time on the starting line watching the various professional classes run through the staging procedure. He is experiencing the Four-Wide Nationals for the first time as a driver. The procedure is different here because four cars stage instead of the usual two.

"As a crewmember, I used to guide Morgan (Lucas) into the staging beams, so I had a fairly good idea on how the whole procedure works," Crampton said. "The people at zMax Dragway put numbers above the staging lights on top of the Christmas Tree, which helped a lot to identify which one you're supposed to be looking at.

"I went up there and watched Pro Stock bike, Pro Stock car, and as much of Funny Car as I could Friday. I pretty much imagined I was in one of those cars and focused on which lane I thought I'd be in and tried to mimic what I should be doing.

"I was really just familiarizing myself with the procedure. I didn't want to roll into the waterbox without watching a few runs beforehand."

Crampton didn't have any issues during the unique staging procedure until Q4 in Lane 3. The staging bulbs are father to the right than usual for that lane, and Crampton needed that run to adjust to it.

"I'm glad that was at the end of qualifying and not my first go-round in Q1 to run in that lane," Crampton said. "I've experienced it and learned from it. Beyond that, you just have to concentrate up there. It's definitely thrown everyone a curveball, but I'm pretty comfortable with it now and can't wait to race tomorrow."

Crampton quailed with a pass of 3.855 seconds at 305.22 mph, run in Saturday's Q3. He'll race in the quad with No. 3 qualifier Khalid alBalooshi, No. 6 Tony Schumacher, and No. 14 Sidnei Frigo, with the top two advancing to the second round.

"Finally getting here to run at the Four-Wide race, it feels good to get qualifying out of the way," Crampton said. "I definitely had a steep learning curve getting used to looking at four sets of staging lights and everything that goes with that.

"I'm fairly comfortable with the way the Tree works and coordinating with three other drivers instead of just one. I'm excited about tomorrow. We only made one solid run in qualifying, but I know (crew chief) Aaron (Brooks) will have a good race car ready for the GEICO team tomorrow."

Due to local noise ordinances, Sunday's eliminations begin at noon ET. ESPN2 will carry the action in tape delay beginning at 8 p.m., Sunday.