Compiled by SEMA Editors
LUCAS TO STEP AWAY FROM DRIVING IN 2014; CRAMPTON WILL FILL LUCAS OIL DRAGSTER SEAT: Morgan Lucas, who has nine career Top Fuel wins, will step out of the cockpit in the 2014 season to concentrate on his family-owned Lucas Oil Products company. Taking over driving duties will be Richie Crampton, who hails from Adelaide, South Australia, and recently earned his Top Fuel license during a test session at Lucas Oil Raceway. Lucas will race in select events in 2014 but won't campaign the full season.
"I have been blessed to make a career out of driving a Top Fuel dragster thanks to amazing partners like GEICO and Lucas Oil," Lucas said. "It's been an honor. But after some serious thought, I feel it's time for me to get out of the driver's seat for a while and get more involved in the family business. My mother and father have worked incredibly hard to build Lucas Oil, and this is the best decision for my family's future."
Crampton began racing at 16, has served as a driving instructor and also has a license in Super Comp and Top Alcohol. "This is certainly a dream come true," Crampton said. "In this day and age, it's not very often you have crew guys getting a chance to move up and drive the car. I'm honored that Morgan and Aaron (Brooks, crew chief) think enough of me to give me this chance. I'm blown away that I'll have GEICO, Lucas Oil and Toyota on my side. As I said, this is something I've been dreaming about since I was a boy, and now it's happening."
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LINE UNHURT IN CRASH DURING TEST SESSION: Two-time Pro Stock world champion Jason Line was unhurt during a closed test session at Rockingham Dragway Thursday. The car went out of control just past half-track, made contact with the right guard wall and barrel-rolled several times before coming to a stop. Line will be forced to race a different car when the series returns at the NHRA Toyota Nationals in Las Vegas.
"You can either cry about it or you can move on," Line said. "Obvisously we've got some pretty tough folks that work for us, and we're just going to move on. We'll make the best of it, and maybe something good will come of it, it's just a matter whether it does this week or next week or maybe six months from now. I can tell you I learned a lot from that incident, and unfortunately it cost a lot of money to learn that, but again it is what it is, and you have to somehow turn it into a positive thing."
NHRA UNVIELS NEW NHRA.COM: NHRA.com has been relaunched with a brand-new look. The new-look NHRA.com, which averages 4.8 million unique visitors and 41 million page views, features a sleek new design, improved functionality, simplified navigation and better organization of content.
“Our goal in the redesign of NHRA.com is to provide an improved user experience, making the site easier to navigate and putting our fans’ most important elements within easy reach,” said Gary Darcy, NHRA senior vice president of sales and marketing. “Our fans and members have provided excellent feedback on the new design, and we are excited to make the new NHRA.com available for everyone to use and enjoy.”
Among the leading elements of the site redesign, NHRA.com now provides users with a more prominent location to find key information about each event in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Races will be prominently displayed in a scrolling bar near the top of the homepage, with each event highlighted in its own capsule, offering users a one-stop shop for ticket and schedule information, TV times and results, among other options. The three upcoming events will be displayed at the top of the home page, and users can scroll back and forth horizontally to view other events.
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NHRA TOYOTA NATIONALS, The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, October 24–27: The NHRA Toyota Nationals is the penultimate race of the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series and the championship battles will be tight as the season comes to a close. Bob Vandergriff (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car), Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) and Eddie Kraweic (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are defending event champions and will again be top contenders during the weekend. One of the largest autograph sessions of the year will take place at the Freemont Street Experience, October 24, with many of the top stars in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
AUTO CLUB NHRA FINALS, Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, November 7–10: The 2013 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series comes to a conclusion at the Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California, November 7–10. Courtney Force will attempt to bookend her season with wins and end her sophmore season. The champions will be crowned during the weekend. Brandon Bernstein (Top Fuel), Cruz Pedregon (Funny Car), Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) took home wins in 2012 and will attempt to end their seasons on a high note.
HE SAID, SHE SAID
“It's a fickle machine. Some days it responds good to what you are trying to do and we have just come across a setup that I think we are trying not to veer too far from. Some days some of these guys really make it look easy and some days it looks a little bit harder. Really just hats off to my guys there and we are trying real hard. Everybody is focused and that shows how bad we want to do well out there."
-- Doug Kalitta on his Mac Tools dragster, which is currently second in Top Fuel points. Kalitta has raced to one win and three semi-final appearances since the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
6: Number of No. 1 qualifying positions Shawn Langdon has recorded during the course of the 2013 season. This leads the Top Fuel category and is a career high for Langdon in his fifth season in Top Fuel. Langdon attempts to add two more No. 1 qualifying positions at the two season-ending events where he has been top qualifier previously in his career. He recorded his career first No. 1 qualifying position at the Las Vegas 1 event in 2009 and was the top qualifier at the seaon ending event in Pomona last year.