NHRA Spring Training Quotes – Richie Crampton Kalitta Air Toyota Top Fuel dragster

What’s the big difference for you between now and when you joined the team last year?
The big difference at this point in time is I get to contend all 24 events and try to make a run at the Countdown.  It’s a different dynamic than coming in for Indy, past the midway point of the year.  I’m pretty excited for the opportunity to start fresh when everyone runs at the same level playing field as far as the points are concerned and try to win some races this year.
Did you test at all last year – and how will testing here impact you?
Every race we race we went to last year, we just showed up and would make some runs.  I’m pretty happy with what we did at a couple of the races. For me, getting amongst this operation last year was a good stepping-stone for this year.  It’s huge for me to come here and just test. Everyone here at the Kalitta Air Toyota team– they’re working at giving me a really good hot rod – which I know they will.  I’m just trying to knock some rust off and get back into my rhythm.  So we’ll make a handful of runs here and be looking good for Pomona.”
How does it feel to be part of a team featuring four proven winners?
It’s pretty cool to have the opportunities I have in front of me right now. Driving for a top-level operation like Connie has here is pretty big.  Just to drive with all of these great drivers that I’ve looked up to as my teammates, I know I’m going to learn a ton from them. Even though Shawn and J.R. have migrated over to Funny Cars, I still bounce things off of them.  Being teammates with Doug, who has won so many races, just being able to talk to him throughout the year.  It’s very exciting for me.  It’s what I’ve always dreamed of. This is what I’ve always wanted to do. I’m back out here with a top-level team and racing again – it’s great.
After being left without a ride to start last season when MLR closed shop, were you confident you would get an opportunity with a top-level team again?
No. I think I’m more realistic than anyone out here on just how just hard it is to get a ride with a top-level team like this. I was obviously very fortunate when I was selected to drive for the previous team, but to get the phone call to come here was something I hoped to happen, but in all reality, I didn’t know if it ever would. Everyone in the world wants to drive one of these cars and I understand it. There are a lot of up-and-coming sportsman racers that deserve a shot also and I get that, too.  So for me it’s just about appreciating what I have here and hope to never be without a ride again.
What are your goals for 2018?
First, and foremost, I want to stand in the Winner’s Circle with Connie Kalitta.  That would mean a huge amount to me.  We want to win rounds and win a lot of races for Toyota, DHL and Kalitta Air and all of our sponsors who have given me this great opportunity.  In a nutshell, just win.
Rob Flynn, Kalitta Air/Toyota Top Fuel dragster Crew Chief
You have a new driver for 2018, how are things looking for the coming year?
We’ve just been around each other a little bit so far, but I think it’s going to work out real well.  It was good to have him in the fold at the end of last year and learn how things get done here. So he’s not an outsider coming in now.  I think he feels at home.
I’m looking forward to Richie driving our car this year. Last year, Shawn did an awesome job with us and Richie did a nice job running in the other car.  Having him in our car, I believe Kalitta Motorsports has one of the best driver line-ups out there.
Can you continue the strong finish you guys had in 2017?
I certainly hope so. We just hit our stride at that point in the Countdown.  Hopefully, we can hit the ground running. We haven’t changed a lot, but we are testing some new things.
Toyota Racing PR
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