589A bombshell announcement came down the news pipe this morning as Morgan Lucas revealed that he will be stepping out of the cockpit of his GEICO/Lucas Oil Top Fuel Dragster in 2014 to concentrate on the family business, Lucas Oil Products. In doing so, Lucas has promoted longtime crewman Richie Crampton to pilot the formidable dragster heads up by crew chief Aaron Brooks that’s currently locked in the Countdown title battle. Crampton recently earned his Top Fuel license during a test session at the Lucas Oil Raceway in indianapolis, just down the road from the team’s headquarters in Brownsburg.

 “I have been blessed to make a career out of driving a Top Fuel dragster thanks to amazing partners like GEICO and Lucas Oil,” Lucas said. “It’s been an honor. But after some serious thought, I feel it’s time for me to get out of the driver’s seat for a while and get more involved in the family business. My mother and father have worked incredibly hard to build Lucas Oil, and this is the best decision for my family’s future.

 “I’ll still own the team and be very involved with the day-to-day operations; I just won’t be attending as many events. For sure, I’ll miss all of the great fans who make our sport what it is today and the intense competition on the track.

 “The future looks bright. Richie has shown a lot of talent in every role he’s played for us, and I have the utmost confidence he will do an outstanding job driving the car in the coming seasons. The team chemistry is there and so is the talent. We need to keep it all together so Aaron (Brooks, crew chief) and the guys can continue to compete for championships.”

 The 33-year old Crampton, a native of Adelaide, South Australia, joined the Morgan Lucas Racing team when it was formed in 2007, already with an extensive racing resume. In his native country, Crampton raced go-karts as a young man before moving to drag racing at the age of 16. He later worked for Cowin Racing on their Top Fuel Dragster that competed in both Australia and the United States. Crampton has also worked for Don Schumacher Racing and has even been a driving instructor at Bill Blomgren’s Drag Racing School.

Image courtesy NHRA/National Dragster

Image courtesy NHRA/National Dragster

 “This is certainly a dream come true,” Crampton said. “In this day and age, it’s not very often you have crew guys getting a chance to move up and drive the car. I’m honored that Morgan and Aaron think enough of me to give me this chance. I’m blown away that I’ll have GEICO, Lucas Oil, and Toyota on my side. As I said, this is something I’ve been dreaming about since I was a boy, and now it’s happening.

 “I feel like a sponge soaking in all the things that are coming at me so fast. I’m sure we’ll be on a bit of a learning curve, but I hope to catch up quickly and put us in a position to win rounds, win races, and be a part of next year’s Countdown to the Championship.”

 GEICO will return as the primary sponsor for the Crampton-driven dragster in 2014, as will Lucas Oil Products and Toyota. Lucas plans to compete in a handful of 2014 Mello Yello Series races in a separate Lucas Oil/GEICO-branded dragster the honor the two companies that have supported him in his Top Fuel career.