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Crampton's first Four-Wide experience goes up in tire smoke


CHARLOTTE, N.C. (April 13) - Despite having the third pick of lanes for the first round of the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals on Sunday, GEICO/Lucas Oil driver Richie Crampton and his Morgan Lucas Racing team figured they had a little luck on their side.

Crew chief Aaron Brooks picked the second lane, the same lane where Crampton made his best pass of the weekend to grab the No. 11 qualifying spot, but the unthinkable happened and Crampton smoked the tires not long after launch, ending his day.

"We were fairly confident we could do what we did in qualifying in Q3 and skip it on down there," Crampton said. "We really weren't worried about smoking the tires at all. I was more fixated on doing my job on the starting line and not leaving anything on the table.

"It wasn't meant to be today, so we'll move on to Houston. I think we'll do well there."

Crampton was matched against No. 3 qualifier Khalid alBalooshi, No. 6 Tony Schumacher, and No. 14 Sidnei Frigo, and only Schumacher made a full pass. Crampton was off the starting line second with a .085-second reaction time, but his elapsed time of 4.517 seconds at 237.00 mph wasn't nearly enough.

"That particular run, it felt pretty good," Crampton said. "We felt pretty confident in that second lane. Our best run of the weekend was in that lane, so we were pretty confident we could slide it on down there."

Crampton figures the distinctive starting line in Charlotte may have been part of the problem.

"It's got kind of a unique starting line, where the race car comes off a real little transition," Crampton said. "Evidently, it might have bit us. It spun the tires early, and we weren't expecting that to happen. It's really unfortunate to not go on and go some rounds at this race. It's a special event, and I was really looking forward to doing well here."

Crampton was comfortable with the unique four-wide staging procedure, buoyed by the experience gained through qualifying.

"Getting four qualifying runs in gave me some experience and helped calm the nerves a little on race day," Crampton said. "Basically, I'm fairly comfortable with the whole procedure now, and I'm looking forward to coming back here next year and doing it all again."