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Feb 04, 2014 - 04:37 PM
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2014 NHRA: The Al-Anabi Racing Team - Pomona, Calif. NHRA Preview
Posted by: newsla on Feb 04, 2014 - 04:36 PM
NHRA
2014 NHRA: The Al-Anabi Racing Team - Pomona, Calif. NHRA Preview


Shawn Langdon, Al-Anabi Racing Top Fuel Dragster (silver):

Residence: Avon, Ind.
Hometown: Mira Loma, Calif.
Date of birth: Sept. 3, 1982
Crew chief: Brian Husen
Al-Anabi Racing Team Owner: His Excellency Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Thani
Al-Anabi Racing Team Manager: Alan Johnson
Alan Johnson Racing Owner: Alan Johnson
2013 wins/final rounds: 7/11 (.636)
Career wins/final rounds: 8/18 (.444)
2013 No. 1 qualifiers: 7
Career No. 1 qualifiers: 13
Best points finish: 1st (2013)
Countdown to the Championship NHRA Playoffs appearances: 5 (2009, ’10, ’11, ’12, ‘13)
First start: Pomona 1, 2009
Career-best elapsed time: 3.712 seconds (Reading, 2012)
Career-best speed: 334.15 mph (Reading, 2012)

 

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■ Shawn Langdon enters the 2014 drag racing season as the reigning NHRA Mello Yello Top Fuel World Champion for the first time in his career. Last year’s title was the third in the last four seasons for the Al-Anabi Racing Team. In addition, it was Langdon’s fourth NHRA National Championship. He won the 1997 NHRA Junior Dragster National Championship in the under 14 division and the NHRA Lucas Oil Super Comp championship in 2007 and ’08. He is the first alumnus of the NHRA Junior Dragster program to win a Mello Yello Championship.

■ When Langdon won the NHRA Mello Yello Top Fuel World Championship last year, he became the fifth driver to win a Top Fuel title with Alan Johnson serving as the crew chief, team owner or team manager. The other Top Fuel champions that worked with Johnson are: Gary Scelzi, Tony Schumacher, Larry Dixon and Del Worsham.

■ When Langdon won the NHRA Mello Yello Top Fuel World Championship last year, it was the 11th Top Fuel title for legendary tuner and Al-Anabi Racing team manager Alan Johnson. He won his previous 10 Top Fuel championships serving as crew chief, team owner and team manager. Including his NHRA National Championships in alcohol dragster, Johnson now has 15 NHRA National Championships.

■ After entering as the top seed but stumbling early in the 2013 Countdown to the Championship NHRA Playoffs, Langdon stormed to the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Top Fuel World Championship with a performance that saw him win two of the season’s last three races to win the World Championship by 164 points over second-place Antron Brown.
■ Langdon had seven wins in 11 final-round appearances last season, and he advanced to at least the semifinals at 16 of the season’s last 20 races. He visited the winner’s circle at the season-opening NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, Calif., in February, Topeka, Kan., in May, Englishtown, N.J., in June, Sonoma, Calif., in July, Indianapolis in September, Reading, Pa., in October and the season-ending NHRA Finals in November. He has eight-career Top Fuel wins.

■ Langdon swept the Pomona races last year winning both the NHRA Winternationals in February and the NHRA Finals in November. He is the first Top Fuel driver to sweep the season’s races at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona since 2004 when Tony Schumacher did it. Not-so-coincidentally, Schumacher’s crew chief at the time was Al-Anabi Racing team manager Alan Johnson. Prior to 2004, the last time it happened was 2000 with Gary Scelzi driving the Team Winston Top Fuel dragster, and once again, Johnson was making the tuning decisions. The other drivers to sweep the season races in Top Fuel at Pomona are Mike Dunn (1999), Gary Ormsby, Sr. (1989) and Darrell Gwynn (1986).

■ Langdon was an excellent qualifier last season; his average qualifying position was 3.75. He had seven No. 1 qualifiers taking top-qualifier honors at Charlotte1, Atlanta Dragway, Topeka, Seattle, Dallas, St. Louis and Las Vegas2, and he qualified in the top-five positions at 19 of the 24 events last year. Langdon has 13 career No. 1 qualifiers.

■ The Al-Anabi Racing Team won races at Pomona 2010, ’11 and ‘13. Larry Dixon won the 2010 Winternationals, Del Worsham won the 2011 Finals, and Langdon won both Pomona races last season. One year ago at this event, Langdon was the No. 7 qualifier; he defeated Clay Millican, Brandon Bernstein, Khalid alBalooshi and Tony Schumacher on his way to the winner’s circle.

■ Langdon recorded the fastest speed to 1,000 feet in NHRA history in October of 2012 in Reading, Pa. when he reached 334.15 mph. In addition, during the same Reading race weekend, his 3.712-second elapsed time was the national elapsed-time record until Antron Brown made a quicker pass in the same weekend and set the record. Langdon’s run still stands as the second-quickest 1,000-foot run in NHRA history; in fact, Langdon holds the second, third and eighth-quickest elapsed times in NHRA history.

■ Langdon won the second annual Traxxas Nitro Shootout in Indianapolis last year; he qualified for the special event when he won the 2013 Circle K Winternationals in Pomona, Calif., in February. Langdon defeated Brittany Force, Antron Brown and Steve Torrence on his way to winning the second-year special event and its $100,000 prize.

■ The Al-Anabi Racing Team has won 40 races since it began in 2009 for an average of eight wins a season or a third of the races. The team won a total of eight races in 2013 with Langdon taking seven wins and Khalid alBalooshi winning once. In 2012, Langdon and alBalooshi each reached the winner’s circle once – the two-win total was the lowest since the Al-Anabi Racing team began racing in 2009. That season, the team won eight times with five in Top Fuel and three in Funny Car; in 2010, Al-Anabi Racing visited the Top Fuel winner’s circle 12 times followed by 10 wins in 2011 when the team fielded two Top Fuel dragsters for the first time.

■ Langdon qualified for the Countdown to the Championship NHRA Playoffs in each of his four previous seasons driving a Top Fuel car. He finished fourth in the final NHRA Mello Yello Top Fuel point standings last season after finishing ninth in 2011, fifth in 2010, and ninth in 2009, his rookie season.

■ Langdon joined the Al-Anabi Racing team prior to the 2012 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season. He won the 2007 and ’08 NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Super Comp championships and the 1997 NHRA Junior Dragster championship in the 14-under division making him a three-time NHRA national series champion.

Langdon prior to Pomona:
“We’re going to approach 2014 the same way that we have the last two years. We’re just very excited to get back out there and get running again. We feel very confident; the whole Al-Anabi team has done a lot of homework in the off-season. We went testing last month and had a successful test session. I don’t think there are going to be too many things that we want to change. We just kind of want to stay in the same attack mode as we have in the last two years. So we’re just very excited to get back out there and get racing at Pomona.

“To win that Mello Yello Top Fuel Championship was a dream of mine since I was a kid. I'll definitely wear that number one proudly on the side of our car. I don’t think it’s going to be too different. I think last year we had the hopes of contending for a world championship. We knew we had a great car and we still feel that way. So we’re just going to basically keep doing what we're doing. We’re obviously proud of what this Al-Anabi Team accomplished last year, but we don’t want to sit on it for too long. We need to keep progressing. All these other teams are playing pretty good catch up. They’re making good runs as well. So we can’t sit around and pat ourselves on the back too much or these guys are going to pass us up.

“So we have to keep working hard, keep at it, and keep trying to keep this team at the top – we have to keep progressing. We’re excited to get into Pomona. We definitely want to get started as the defending World Champions and also the event champion. Obviously, there are a lot of great memories out at Pomona – it’s always a fun race. It’s the first race of the year and a track where I grew up so we’re definitely counting down the minutes to get there.”

Khalid alBalooshi, Al-Anabi Racing Top Fuel Dragster (gold):

Residence: Los Angeles, Calif.
Hometown: Dubai, UAE
Date of Birth: July 27, 1979
Crew Chief: Jason McCulloch
Al-Anabi Racing Team Owner: His Excellency Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Thani
Al-Anabi Racing Team Manager: Alan Johnson
Alan Johnson Racing Owner: Alan Johnson
2013 wins/final rounds: 1/3 (.334)
Career wins/final rounds: 2/4 (.500)
2013 No. 1 Qualifiers: 0
Career No. 1 qualifiers: 0
Career-best points finish: 8th (2013)
Countdown to the Championship NHRA Playoffs appearances: 1 (2013)
First professional start: Pomona1, 2012
Career-best elapsed time: 3.735 seconds (Reading 2012)
Career-best speed: 328.46 mph (Reading, 2012)

■ Khalid alBalooshi enters the 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing season on the strength of his 8th-place finish in the final point standings last year. He won a race and recorded two runner-up finishes along the way. Now a two-time Top Fuel winner, he is far more experienced in Top Fuel than he was when he began making the move from Pro Mod to Top Fuel two years ago. The Dubai native had 25 round wins last season. In his 2012 rookie season, alBalooshi won a total of 14 rounds of racing showing an improvement of nearly 79% last season.

■ AlBalooshi had a busy off season. Following the NHRA Finals last November, alBalooshi returned home to Dubai, UAE. After some brief down time with his family, he got right back behind the wheel of a car. He ran the Qatar Mile in Doha, Qatar, a one-mile race from a standing start to see who can reach the highest speed. He ran two Arabian Drag Racing League events as well as several Sand Racing drag races. In addition, he participated in the Doha Goals Forum in Doha, Qatar as an ambassador to the 400 students in attendance. For additional information, please visit www.dohagoals.com.

■ The Al-Anabi Racing Team participated in pre-season testing in West Palm Beach, Fla., last month, and it was an excellent test session for alBalooshi and the gold Al-Anabi team. After making some changes in last year’s tune-up, gold Al-Anabi crew chief Jason McCulloch had things buttoned up for testing, and alBalooshi’s was among the quickest cars in testing.

■ AlBalooshi’s gold Al-Anabi dragster has a new look for 2014. New this year, the car has gold lettering on a black background making the car radically different from that of teammate Shawn Langdon. For those who had problems telling the difference between the Al-Anabi cars, it will be a welcome change.

■ The Al-Anabi Racing Team won races at Pomona 2010, ’11 and ‘13. Larry Dixon won the 2010 Winternationals, Del Worsham won the 2011 Finals, and Langdon won both Pomona races last season. One year ago at this event, alBalooshi was the No. 6 qualifier; he defeated Bob Vandergriff and Doug Kalitta before losing to his teammate, Shawn Langdon, in the semifinals.

■ AlBalooshi won the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio last July. It was his first win of the season and the second of his Top Fuel career. He had one win in three final rounds and four semifinals last season.

■ AlBalooshi’s rookie year was a story of two very different half seasons. In the first half of the season, alBalooshi was defeated in the first round of eliminations at all 12 races. However, after getting his first Top Fuel round win at Denver in July, alBalooshi advanced to at least the second round of eliminations at10 of the last 11 races of the season including each of the last nine. He had a win and a semifinal in the last three races, and before he lost in the Las Vegas semifinals at the second-to-last race of the year, he had won six consecutive rounds of racing.

■ Because he finished eighth in the final 2013 NHRA MelloYello Top Fuel point standing, alBalooshi is able to display the No. 8 on the rear wing of the gold Al-Anabi Racing dragster. However, alBalooshi chose to keep the No. 99 on the car as a tribute to Al-Anabi Racing team owner His Excellency Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Thani; nine is Sheikh Khalid’s favorite number.

■ AlBalooshi, the first Middle Eastern driver to compete in a major United States Motorsports series, joined the Al-Anabi Racing Team as a Pro Mod driver when it was formed in 2009 racing in both Arabian Drag Racing League and American Drag Racing League competition. He is the 2011 NHRA Get Screened America Pro Mod champion. Prior to joining the Top Fuel portion of the Al-Anabi Racing Team in 2012, he had 158 career race wins in various classes of competition.

AlBalooshi prior to Pomona:
“The 2013 season was very good for the Al-Anabi team and for me. We won another race and finished eighth in the season. It was good, but it was just, for us, the next step. I was very happy for Shawn and the silver team to win the (2013 NHRA Mello Yello Top Fuel World) championship. It was very good for our team, and it was good for Qatar and Sheikh Khalid.

“Last year at Pomona (in November), Jason told me he found some problems with our car that have been fixed now. Jason told me, ‘Balooshi trust me, I found the problems.’ And when I got to testing in Florida (last month), I had a way better car. It was just like he said it would be, and I can’t wait to drive the car in the races this year.

“Our car looks different this year. When we go to the starting line, everyone will know it is the gold Al-Anabi team – it will be easy now to know if it is Shawn’s car or my car. I am excited about the new season; we have a great hot rod, and I hope our team will win a lot of races this year.”

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