St. Louis region race is a crucial Countdown to the Championship points event
September 23, 2019, St. Louis Region – In the span of a few hours, NHRA Top Fuel Dragster driver Richie Crampton’s season took a sudden turn at the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship opener. Now the Australian veteran will see if he can keep the momentum rolling at this weekend’s eighth annual AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Illinois.
Crampton won the first event of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series’ six-race playoffs, immediately throwing his name into the championship conversation in his 11,000-horsepower Kalitta Motorsports dragster. This weekend’s race in the St. Louis-Metro East region is Crampton’s next opportunity to show that he’s a legitimate title contender. The win has certainly sent a jolt of confidence through the entire team. Crampton now is fifth in points, riding high at the most important time of the year.
“I’ve always had the utmost confidence in my team, but it does change the dynamic and outlook of the Countdown,” said Crampton, a 10-time NHRA Top Fuel Dragster winner. “We try to win every weekend, but seeing we have a real shot at it, it just makes everyone focused a lot more. Not that they weren’t already, but in a positive way, it just really makes it more real and more exciting. I’m enjoying it.
“You can really only worry about yourself,” said Crampton, who has 10 career Top Fuel Dragster wins. “It’s going to take care of itself. At the end of the day, you don’t have the opportunity to race all the contenders in the first round at the next race. To me, it’s key that we can continue to keep moving forward. Winning races is the ultimate goal, but at the very least going a couple rounds each weekend. Nobody else is going to help you as much as you can help yourself.”
Crampton knocked off Kalitta Motorsports teammate Doug Kalitta in the final round at Maple Grove, but Kalitta took over the points lead from Steve Torrence, the reigning world champ who lost in the first round. Crampton is now just 54 points back of Kalitta heading into St. Louis, but the likes of 2017 world champ Brittany Force, Antron Brown, Leah Pritchett, Clay Millican and Mike Salinas are within title reach as well. That ups the ante heading to St. Louis, but Crampton is hopeful that brings out the best in his team and his driving again this weekend.
“We’ve got to continue to make good runs in qualifying and have a real solid four runs of information to work off of for race day,” Crampton continued. “I have every bit of faith in Connie and Kurt, and my team if we get some good runs under our belt, regardless of where we qualify, it will equate to round wins in St. Louis. It’s one of those races where the fans really get behind the race. The Midwest fans are great, so it’s going to be another good one and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Steve Torrence (Top Fuel Dragster), Robert Hight (Funny Car), Tanner Gray (Pro Stock) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the WWTR event.
Hight won in dramatic fashion a year ago in the Funny Car finale as his car exploded just past the finish line. Hight crashed and broke his collarbone, but he returned the next race to compete for a championship. He’ll look to keep his St. Louis momentum going against Jack Beckman, who won in Reading, John Force, and defending champ J.R. Todd.
Jason Line grabbed the early momentum in Pro Stock, winning the opening playoff race and taking the points lead. He’ll look to keep that going against a talented group of championship contenders, including Bo Butner, Erica Enders, Alex Laughlin, Jeg Coughlin Jr. and Greg Anderson.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Jerry Savoie has won back-to-back races, including the playoff opener, to take a slim lead over Andrew Hines, who was dominant in the regular season. Others to watch include defending event winner and world champ Smith, Hector Arana Jr. and Eddie Krawiec.
This weekend’s event also will feature the thrilling E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service, which will have its 10th of 12 races in 2019. The defending event winner is current points leader Stevie “Fast” Jackson.
EIGHTH ANNUAL AAA INSURANCE NHRA MIDWEST NATIONALS
The world’s biggest names in professional drag racing will compete at speeds in excess of 330 miles per hour on WWTR’s drag strip. The event is crucial to all title contenders during the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship.
Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. Every ticket is a pit pass. To purchase tickets or obtain more information about WWTR, please call (618) 215-8888 or visit www.wwtraceway.com. Follow WWTR on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 27
7:30 a.m. – Spectator gates and parking lots open.
8 am. – Sportsman qualifying.
11 a.m. – Midway open.
2:30 p.m. – Pro Mod qualifying.
3:15 p.m. – Pro Stock Motorcycle and Pro Stock (car) qualifying.
4 p.m. – Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car qualifying.
5:15 p.m. – Pro Mod qualifying.
6 p.m. — Pro Stock Motorcycle and Pro Stock (car) qualifying.
6:45 p.m. — Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car qualifying, NHRA Prime Time.
7:45 p.m. – Track closed.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 28
7 a.m. – Spectator gates and parking lots open.
8 a.m. – Sportsman eliminations begin.
10:15 a.m. – Midway opens.
1 p.m. – Pro Mod qualifying.
1:45 p.m. — Pro Stock Motorcycle and Pro Stock (car) qualifying.
2:30 p.m. — Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car qualifying.
3:45 p.m. – Pro Mod qualifying.
4:30 p.m. — Pro Stock Motorcycle and Pro Stock (car) qualifying.
5:15 p.m. — Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car qualifying.
8:15 p.m. – Track closed.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 29
7 a.m. – Parking lots open.
8 a.m. – Spectator gates open.
9 a.m. – Midway open.
10 a.m. – Pre-race ceremonies and SealMaster Track Walk.
11 a.m. – First round of Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car eliminations.
Noon – First round of Pro Stock Motorcycle and Pro Stock (car) eliminations.
12:30 p.m. – First round of Pro Mod eliminations.
1:10 p.m. – Second round of Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car eliminations.
1:40 p.m. – Second round of Pro Stock Motorcycle and Pro Stock (car) eliminations.
2 p.m. – Second round of Pro Mod eliminations.
2:35 p.m. — Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car semi-finals.
2:50 p.m. — Pro Stock Motorcycle and Pro Stock (car) semi-finals.
3 p.m. – Pro Mod semi-finals.
3:05 p.m. – Final rounds of eliminations for Sportsman, Comp, Factory Stock Showdown.
3:25 p.m. – Jr. Dragsters.
3:30 p.m. – Parade of champions.
3:40 p.m. – Final round of Pro Mod eliminations.
3:45 p.m. – Final round of Pro Stock Motorcycle and Pro Stock (car) eliminations.
3:50 p.m. – Final round of Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car eliminations.
4 p.m. – Track closed.
Schedule subject to change.
TICKETS: As a reminder, the resale of tickets on WWTR property is strictly prohibited by law. WWTR is not responsible for counterfeit tickets purchased from unauthorized sellers. Your most secure ticket purchase process is to visit the WWTR ticket office and ticket sales locations.
RECOMMENDED ARRIVAL TIMES FOR THE BEST RACE DAY EXPERIENCE:
Friday, September 27 — Midway opens at 11 a.m. with Pro Mod qualifying at 2:15 p.m. The first round of Funny Car and Top Fuel Dragster qualifying is scheduled for 4 p.m. The second round of nitro qualifying will begin at 6:45 p.m. with NHRA Prime Time. Racing will conclude at approximately 9 p.m.
Saturday, September 28 — Midway opens at 10:15 a.m. with Pro Mod qualifying at 1 p.m. and Funny Car and Top Fuel Dragster qualifying at 2:30 p.m. The final round of nitro qualifying will take place at 5:15 p.m. Sportsman eliminations will continue until approximately 9 p.m.
Sunday, September 29 — Championship Sunday Midway opens at 9 a.m. Pre-race ceremonies will begin at 10 a.m. Eliminations start with Top Fuel Dragster at 11 a.m. We encourage everyone to make their best effort to be on the grounds and in their seats by 10 a.m. for opening ceremonies. Sunday racing final rounds are scheduled to begin at 3:50 p.m. with the event concluding at 4 p.m.
About World Wide Technology Raceway
World Wide Technology Raceway is the home of INDYCAR, NASCAR and NHRA racing in the St. Louis region. Located just five minutes from downtown St. Louis and covering more than 340 acres, Gateway Motorsports Park is the largest outdoor entertainment facility in the area. World Wide Technology Raceway’s facilities include a 1/4-mile drag strip, 1.25-mile superspeedway, recently-expanded 2.0-mile road course, a state-of-the-art karting facility and a 14-acre, multi-purpose dirt off-road venue. World Wide Technology Raceway was the recipient of the 2017 Outstanding Facility of the Year Award from the Race Track Business Conference and the 2017 Spirit of St. Louis Award from St. Louis Attractions Association. In 2018, owner and CEO Curtis Francois received the Innovator Award from the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission in recognition of his work for restoring World Wide Technology Raceway (known then as Gateway Motorsports Park) to prominence.