Richie Crampton claimed his first career Top Fuel victory, becoming the 100th different winner in the category, at the Toyota NHRA Summernationals on Sunday.
Cruz Pedregon in Funny Car, Jeg Coughlin in Pro Stock, and Andrew Hines in Pro Stock Motorcycle also won their respective classes at the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park.
Crampton powered his dragster to a 3.819-second pass at 320.51 miles-per-hour to defeat Top Fuel points leader Doug Kalitta in the final round. The victory came during the Australian’s ninth career start after replacing Morgan Lucas in the offseason and only a week after Crampton and his girlfriend welcomed the birth of their first child.
“This is all surreal right now,” Crampton said. “I’m really just living the dream. I know that sounds cliché, but I’m just lucky to be in the position I’m at in my personal life and my career.”
Crampton was the #2 qualifier for the event—his career-best starting spot. The win was extra sweet given Crampton’s milestone achievement.
“I had no idea coming into this race that somebody could possibly be the 100th new winner in Top Fuel, but it’s pretty special to get that particular point on the list,” Crampton said. “You think about how many great drivers there are on that particular list, and it’s icing on the cake for me there.”
Kalitta was appearing in his fifth final of the seaso. Despite the defeat, Kalitta increased his points lead to 103 over second-place Antron Brown.
Pedregon was the class of the Funny Car field all weekend, going from the top qualifying spot to the winner’s circle with a performance of 4.126 at 301.33 in his Toyota Camry over Del Worsham in the final. The win was a relief for Pedregon, whose team has struggled so far this season.
“It was a tremendous points day,” Pedregon said. “To say I’m excited and happy would be an understatement, but I also feel relieved a little bit. We’ve dug ourselves a pretty good hole this year.”
The win was Pedregon’s 35th of his career and first of the season. With the victory, Pedregon tied NHRA legend Don Prudhomme for fourth on the all-time Funny Car wins list.
“Prudhomme is my hero, and it means a lot [to tie him],” Pedregon said. “I’ve been doing this a long time. I’ve had plenty of opportunities, but I think my biggest accomplishment is the fact that I have been doing it so long in different scenarios. To be able to do this at this level and maintain it 20 years later means everything to me.”
In Pro Stock, Coughlin secured his second win of the season and 58th of his career by defeating Greg Anderson in the final round with a 6.510 at 213.94 in his Dodge Dart.
“We had the kind of conditions that Pro Stock cars love today with a great barometer and not a cloud in the sky but you had to work for it,” Coughlin said. “They gave us enough time to figure it out and we had a great day.”
Coughlin, the defending and five-time world champ, has reached the final in the last three events, also winning Atlanta and finishing runner-up in Topeka.
Erica Enders-Stevens had a great weekend performance-wise in her Chevy Camaro as she reset both ends of the Pro Stock national record with her 6.464-second ET and 215.55 miles-per-hour speed.
Hines defeated Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson teammate Eddie Krawiec to take the Pro Stock Motorcycle victory. It was the second win for Hines at Raceway Park.
“We are back,” Hines said. “I think we put an exclamation point on that this weekend. We’ve been digging the last year and a half to get back to where we were. I’ve always said that racing gets in the way of our R&D and this winter we had a chance to get a lot of work done and we’re starting to reap the benefits.”
A three-time Pro Stock Motorcycle world champion, Hines recorded his second win of the season and 34th of his career. He leaves Englishtown having increased his points lead.
The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series continues in Bristol, TN with the 14th annual Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway, June 13-15.
Pro Stock Championship Point Standings
1. Erica Enders-Stevens 791 2. Jeg Coughlin 668 Allen Johnson 668 4. Jason Line 623 5. Shane Gray 582
Funny Car Championship Point Standings
1. Robert Hight 730 2. John Force 524 3. Alexis DeJoria 472 4. Ron Capps 430 5. Del Worsham 400
Top Fuel Championship Point Standings
1. Doug Kalitta 649 2. Antron Brown 642 3. Steve Torrence 503 4. Shawn Langdon 461 5. Spencer Massey 454