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Poor track conditions sting GEICO/Lucas Oil's Crampton


ATLANTA (May 18) - The bad news for GEICO/Lucas Oil Top Fuel dragster driver Richie Crampton was an unfortunate first-round loss in the rain-delayed Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals on Sunday at Atlanta Dragway.

The good news? He's about to become a father for the first time.

Crampton was bitten by poor track conditions that ultimately led NHRA to suspend the first round of Top Fuel after only five pairs of cars. Both Crampton and opponent Shawn Langdon spun their tires, with Langdon fortunate to get hooked up to the recalcitrant track.

"I think it's pretty evident that everyone's having trouble out there," Crampton said. "As we stand here, I think we made it farther than any other car; we made it to the 60-foot cone. (Crew chief) Aaron (Brooks) had things slowed down, and it shook and I pedaled it once but couldn't get it to recover."

Crampton's official elapsed time was 5.440 seconds at 186.92 mph while Langdon's was 5.221 at 291.13 mph.

"Once again, it's just not a fair indication of what this team is capable of," Crampton said. "First-round losses are definitely getting old for everyone on this team. I feel for these guys; they work so hard, and we're just not getting the results we deserve right now."

Crampton, though, has good news awaiting him in Indianapolis, where he was headed after the race with his parents Alan and June Crampton, who flew in from their home in Australia.

Crampton's girlfriend Stephanie Laski is scheduled to be induced Tuesday, when their first child is expected to be delivered.

"I'm pretty excited to put today behind me and head back to Indianapolis and become a parent with my awesome girlfriend Stephanie," Crampton said. "We have our fingers crossed that everything goes well, and I can't wait to meet our little baby girl.

"It's a new chapter in my life, but it still stings a little to get beat today, especially on a pedalfest. That's definitely where drivers earn their keep and to get beat right there really stings. GEICO, Lucas Oil, Toyota, they deserve better. We'll get 'em next week."