TOP FUEL ROOKIE RICHIE CRAMPTON KNOWS IMPORTANCE OF LUCAS OIL NHRA NATIONALS: Top Fuel rookie Richie Crampton may not have any family ties to Brainerd International Raceway, but this weekend’s 33rd annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals feels very much like a hometown race. Having the Lucas Oil name attached to the event makes the race a big deal for Crampton, who has already piloted his GEICO/Lucas Oil dragster to one win in his first Top Fuel season. Spencer Massey (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car) and Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) took home victories at the event last season. The incentive to do well is certainly there for Crampton for that reason, but also to enter the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship on a good note.
"It's a hometown feel for everyone at Morgan Lucas Racing," Crampton said. “Brainerd is a pretty special event for Lucas Oil and the Lucas family, and we always have a great time. It’s a big event to do well at and build some momentum for the Countdown. We just need to stay consistent and do well every run so we can gather all the information we can for Sunday. The way [crew chief] Aaron Brooks has the car running right now, it's fun to go to every race."
FORCE BUILDING CHAMPIONSHIP MOMENTUM HEADING TO BRAINERD: With 16 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championships to his credit, it is safe to say reigning Funny Car world champion John Force knows how to peak for a championship run. Further proof of that is Force’s longtime dominance at Brainerd International Raceway, which plays host to the 33rd annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals. Force has 11 victories at the facility, the most for any driver in NHRA history at one particular track. The race also serves as the 17th of 24 races during the 2014 season and is the penultimate stop in the regular season before the upcoming Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship. That means doing well in Brainerd can go a long way toward getting the ball rolling for a strong start in the Countdown playoffs.
"You try and get on a roll with your teams going into Indy," Force said. "You are trying to get things figured out on the Western Swing and the bottom line is you want to have your cars at the head of the pack. Brainerd helps build on that because you get that mental motivation coming out of Brainerd with a good race and that takes you right into Indy and the Countdown."
MACH 1 TO BACK ENDERS-STEVENS: The Pro Stock points leader Erica Enders-Stevens will challenge for the 2014 NHRA championship with Mach 1 Global Services on the side of her powerful Elite Motorsports Camaro. The global logistics company, which has supported Enders-Stevens in the past, signed on as title sponsor for the remainder of the season, beginning with the race in Dallas.
"We're so excited to reunite with Erica," CEO Jamie Fletcher said. "We've certainly kept up with her career since we first started supporting her in 2008 and we're definitely impressed with the season she's putting together. Being a woman in a male-dominated industry, Erica and I share a special bond because we've faced many of the same obstacles in our respective careers. She's been a real inspiration to so many young women and to see her in the winner's circle so many times since we've met always serves as personal motivation for me."
He Said, She Said
"I’m sort of taking on that Al Davis mindset of 'Just win, baby.' The car has had its ups and downs, but we’re working real hard on it and I’m confident. We just need to go out there and turn on the win lights. All I’m thinking about is just winning. We may have dug ourselves too big of a hole [for the Countdown], but we just have to win. That will make everything that much better. We just haven’t been able to get caught up. It’s nobody’s fault and everyone has worked incredibly hard. We’ve made a lot of improvements and I feel like we’re getting a lot closer. We had five consecutive runs under power in Seattle and that’s what we like to see. I’m not happy with where we’re at in the points, but I am happy with our team."
—Top Fuel racer Clay Millican, on his goals in the final two races remaining until the start of the Countdown to the Championship. Millican is 151 points out of the 10th position in his Parts Plus team, which is owned and tuned by Dexter Tuttle. The team came together at the start of the season, has qualified at every event in the ultra-competitive Top Fuel category and is looking for consistency the remainder of the season.
Inside the Numbers
4: Number of wins defending Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals event winner Ron Capps has at Brainerd International Raceway. He is second on the all-time Funny Car wins list at the facility behind John Force who has 11 career wins at the historic facility. Joe Amato has the most Top Fuel wins at the event with six with active drivers Larry Dixon and Tony Schumacher each having three wins. Bruce Allen, Jeg Coughlin, Bob Glidden and Warren and Kurt Johnson are all tied for the most Pro Stock wins at the track with four.
Did You KnowU.S. NATIONALS SPECIAL EVENT INFORMATION: Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis will transform into a showcase of NHRA Drag Racing history during the 60th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, August 27-September 1. The most iconic moments in event history, the drivers who made them, classic cars and more will be celebrated during the weekend.
View the complete 2014 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.