Aussie Richie Crampton has topped qualifying for the first time in the GEICO/Lucas Oil Dragster, with a blistering pass at the 50th annual NHRA Finals in Pomona.
Crampton set a time of 3.711 seconds at 316.30 mph, breaking the track’s ET record and becoming the second quickest run in Top Fuel history.
The Morgan Lucas Racing driver said the number one qualifier status caps of an unbelievable rookie year, which has seen him take two wins and make the Countdown to the Championship.
“It feels great. We've been so close to being number one a few other races this season, so it's an awesome feeling to put that on the list of my accomplishments this year,” he said.
"(Crew chief) Aaron Brooks and the GEICO/Lucas team threw everything they had at it and it stuck.”
"I knew if our car would make it past the Christmas Tree, that it would probably be on a mission. I was definitely hanging on and ready for it. It was a heck of a ride."
Crampton likened the feeling to his maiden win at the US Nationals in August.
"It was almost like when I won Indy across the finish line. I was pretty pumped,” he said.
“I was surprised to run that fast. I was looking up at the scoreboard as we were going through the lights, which I probably shouldn't have been, and saw the 3.71.”
Teammate Morgan Lucas took third spot with a 3.738 second run at 323.35 mph.
Crampton is tipped to win the Road to the Future Award on Monday night, the NHRA's highest rookie honour.
"I'm probably the most spoiled rookie in NHRA,” he said.
"I get to drive such great equipment for one of the best teams out here. It's all the team, this great race car, and the great sponsors we have - GEICO, Lucas Oil, and Toyota. I'm just the lucky guy who gets to drive it.”
Crampton faces 16th qualifier Troy Buff in the first round of eliminations, while Lucas pairs up against Billy Torrence.