Top Fuel pilot Richie Crampton secured back-to-back event victories Sunday at the 50th annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway.
Robert Hight (Funny Car), Bo Butner (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were also winners in their respective categories at the third of 24 events on the 2019 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.
Crampton locked in his first victory since this event last year on a holeshot win against Clay Millican with his pass of 3.769s at 329.89mph in his DHL / Kalitta Air dragster. He had not won a round this season, prior to securing this one, his ninth career win.
“This is just a big race no matter what year you win it,” Crampton said. “There were not too many easy rounds this year. That goes to tell you how difficult this Top Fuel category is. I think this win is going to take a while to sink in. I’m so lucky to have a team that puts me in a position to win like this. I’m just focusing on being a dependable driver.”
Millican, who raced to his second career final round at the facility, started from the No. 7 position and defeated Austin Prock, Jordan Vandergriff and veteran Doug Kalitta before the final.
Hight claimed the Funny Car title with his run of 3.867s at 331.61mph in his Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS to defeat Tim Wilkerson in the finals. After earning his third No. 1 qualifier of the season on Saturday, Hight secured his second Wally of the season and 47th of his career.
“Qualifying No. 1 at the first three races is really impressive,” Hight said. “It shows that we have a really good handle on this car. We didn’t get the job done on the last day of the season last year, and my team worked really hard over the winter because they don’t want to be in that spot again.”
Hight raced against Terry Haddock, Ron Capps and John Force before entering his second final round of the season. Wilkerson took down Dave Richards, Cruz Pedregon and defending event winner Jack Beckman.
In Pro Stock, 2017 world champion Butner powered his Jim Butner’s Auto Chevrolet Camaro to victory with a run of 6.505s at 212.29mph over Alex Laughlin. Butner was the runner-up at this track last year and clinched his second win of the season. His fiance, Randi Lyn Shipp, won in the Stock Eliminator category at this event.
“I had no shot of winning rounds today,” Butner stated. “Second and third round we didn’t get down the track. But the KB guys never gave up and I made the best run of the weekend in the finals. We were real ready for the final.”
Butner qualified in the No. 5 position and defeated Fernando Cuadro, Deric Kramer and No. 1 qualifier Rodger Brogdon who red-lit in the semi-finals. Laughlin bested veterans Jason Line, Greg Anderson and Kenny Delco before facing Butner.
Hines raced to his first win in the category since Pomona 2 in 2017 with a run of 6.752s at 199.17mph on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance and Hines Harley-Davidson Street Rod. He defeated his teammate and defending event winner Eddie Krawiec for a rematch of the finals from 2018.
“The motorcycle I had this weekend was phenomenal,” Hines said. “It was tracking straight down the track and it responded to all of the changes. That made it so much easier to focus on going out there and racing, cutting good lights and not really worrying about what could happen the very next run.”
Krawiec was the No. 2 qualifier for the event and defeated Scott Pollacheck, Jim Underdahl and Joey Gladstone en route to his fourth consecutive final round at this facility.
The 2019 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season continues with the DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway April 5-7 in Las Vegas