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New father Crampton hopes to bring home a Wally for daughter Emma

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TOPEKA, Kan. (May 24) - GEICO/Lucas Oil Top Fuel dragster driver Richie Crampton knows it's only a matter of time before his Morgan Lucas Racing team puts it all together on race day, and this weekend's NHRA Kansas Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka would be a great place because Crampton would be able to share the Wally with newborn daughter Emma.

"That would be a great gift for both of us," Crampton said.

Emma Kathleen Crampton was born Tuesday to Crampton and girlfriend Stephanie Laski. While mom and daughter are home in Indianapolis, Crampton has raced to the No. 10 qualifying position at Heartland Park, putting down a decent run in the final qualifying session.

"We know how well this GEICO car can run; it's just putting it all together and making it happen," Crampton said. "We're having a little bad luck here and there. It's a matter of time, and we're just working through it and keeping our spirits up. We know how good we can run, and we'll get there."

Crampton's pass of 3.804 seconds at 322.88 mph in the final session came after two potential stellar runs ended early. The other qualifying session, Q2, was rained out Friday.

"That's obviously a fairly decent run," Crampton said. "Having rain affecting qualifying again didn't give us four full swings at it. (Crew chief) Aaron (Brooks) couldn't exactly go for the throat here in the last session. We just needed to be in the middle of the pack and qualify well and not try to push the issue.

"All things considered, we'll take it. That was a decent run for today and the conditions we were in."

In the first round of eliminations, Crampton will square off against Bob Vandergriff Jr., who qualified No. 7 with a top pass of 4.782 seconds at 318.69 mph.

While Crampton has been focused on racing, he has allowed himself to be distracted by photos texted to him by Laski.

"I have probably received about 10 pictures of little Emma, mostly by my request: 'What's she doing now? What's new?' " Crampton said. "I'm pretty excited to get home and pick up where we left off last Thursday and help Stephanie out with Emma and get to know her a little more."

Top Fuel eliminations are slated to start at 11 a.m., Sunday.