South Aussie Richie Crampton has added to a massive week for Australians in American motorsport, taking victory in the biggest Top Fuel drag race in the world – the US Nationals in Indianapolis, becoming the first Aussie to do so.
The 60th US Nationals was rookie Top Fuel driver Crampton's first attempt at the event. He defeated Steve Torrence with a 3.766 second pass, but the big story was the drivers he had to get past to make the final after qualifying fourth.
On his giant killing path to the final, Crampton took out Billy Torrence then two of the major front runners of NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing – Shawn Langdon and Tony Schumacher.
It had been a solid weekend for Crampton, who was runner-up in the $100,000 Traxxas Challenge held in the leadup to eliminations.
The win leaves the Adelaide racer eighth in the points standings and with a position into the Countdown that starts at the next NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event. It also places him in the box seat to become the NHRA's Rookie of the Year.
His GEICO dragster was on rails, pounding down the 1000ft Indy strip within hundredths of a second on each pass.
Despite winning an NHRA race at Englishtown earlier this year, the ‘Big Go' is without question the South Aussie's biggest win.
The other Australian interest in the Top Fuel category, Rapisarda Autosport International had its own giant killing run. Dom Lagana qualified the Sydney-owned car eighth and went through to the second round after beating heavy hitter Doug Kalitta. He was eliminated by Schumacher in round two.
In Pro Stock, Queenslander Shane Tucker made one of the toughest fields of the season qualifying in 14th position. In a terrific drag race in the opening round of eliminations, he missed out on making it forward by one-one-hundredth of a second, going down to Shane Gray.
Third placed qualifier Gray went on to advance to the final and take the victory over Dave Connolly.
Alexis DeJoria became just the fourth female winner of a US Nationals as she drove around Funny Car points leader, John Force to take the Tequila Patron car to victory lane.
It was her third win of the season and she accounted for fellow female racer, Courtney Force in the semis on her way through to the final.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Eddie Kraewic beat home Jerry Savoie.
Crampton is just the second Australian to have won a US Nationals Championship trophy with Wally Park winning Super Stock in 1985. The Adelaide tuner-cum-racer's run to become the first Australian to win the Top Fuel Championship at the US Nationals and take his second NHRA win is a tremendous boost for Australian drag racing and the feat cannot be underestimated, particularly with the competition he was faced during the course of eliminations.
VIDEO: Crampton wins US Nationals
The next round of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series will be held at ZMAX Dragway in Charlotte over the weekend of September 12-14.