Mar 18, 2018; Gainesville, FL, USA; NHRA top fuel driver Richie Crampton celebrates with his crew after winning during the Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

49th Gatornationals Comes To Speedy Finish Sunday

Start your engines. Get ready. Go! And zoom. The 49th edition of the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals took place at the Gainesville Raceway over the weekend. There were some top finishes on the track Sunday.

Many of the top names in the sport competed in Gainesville and left with some memorable moments and a trophy or two.

Crampton Finishes Big

Top Fuel driver Richie Crampton, an Australian who has found a place racing in the U.S., was seeking his eighth-career NHRA Top Fuel event title. He got just that.

Crampton, 37, had to endure four rounds of tough competition before reaching the final. To start off, he took on Kalitta Air/DHL teammate and three-time Gatornationals winner Doug Kalitta in the first round, edging him out with a 3.776 finish.

Before joining team Kalitta Air/DHL last year, Crampton sat out of the sport for most of last season. His former team, Morgan Lucas Racing, closed in 2016. He said he was “sitting on the bench” last year and received a phone call from drag-racing legend Connie Kalitta (Doug’s uncle). Kalitta offered him to fill in for the last half of 2017.

Crampton accepted and now he’s competing in top events on the tour like the Gatornationals.

He said he also chose the Top Fuel event because he wanted to drive the fastest car he could and be at the pinnacle of drag racing.

After defeating Doug Kalitta in Round 1, Crampton went on to face Mike Salinas in the second round. He moved past Salinas, as he was disqualified. He then faced Antron Brown in the third round, winning by over a second. In previous events, Brown had a 9-2 record against Crampton.

In the final round, Crampton went head-to-head against driver Shawn Reed. Right after the two crossed the start line, Reed had to shut off his dragster because of an issue with the fuel system.

Crampton zoomed down the track alone and crossed the finish line with a winning time of 3.854 seconds at 314.9 mph. That finish gave him his first Gatornationals victory.

Other Winners at Gatornationals

In addition to Crampton, there were several other winners at the 2018 Gatornationals. Driver Jack Beckman won the Funny Car event with a 4.035 finish, edging out competitor Matt Hagan. In the Pro Stock event, Tanner Gray beat out driver Bo Butner with a 6.588 finish. Eddie Krawiec won the Pro Stock Motorcycle event and defeated teammate Andrew Hines in the final round with a 6.824 finish.

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