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Apr 22, 2014 - 07:36 PM
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2014 NHRA: The Al-Anabi Racing Team - Houston NHRA Preview
Posted by: newsla on Apr 22, 2014 - 07:34 PM
NHRA
2014 NHRA: The Al-Anabi Racing Team - Houston 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
2014 wins/final rounds: 0/1 (.000)
Career wins/final rounds: 8/19 (.421)
2014 No. 1 qualifiers: 2
Career No. 1 qualifiers: 15
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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■ Reigning NHRA Mello Yello Top Fuel champion Shawn Langdon enters the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals in fourth place in the current NHRA Mello Yello Top Fuel point standings; it is his highest points position of the season. He trails third-place Steve Torrence by 17 points and leads fifth-place Tony Schumacher by 14 points.

■ Langdon advanced to his first final round of the season earlier this month at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals near Charlotte. Langdon defeated Terry McMillen and Steve Torrence in the first round and defeated Spencer Massey and Brittany Force in the four-wide semifinals. In the final, Langdon and Antron Brown posted identical 3.800-second passes, but Brown’s starting-line advantage got him to the finish line first. Langdon finished second in the four-car final round; the margin of victory was .015 seconds.

■ Langdon was the No. 1 qualifier at the Four-Wide Nationals. It was his second No. 1 qualifier in five races this season and the 15th of his career. Langdon’s average qualifying position in 2014 is 3.20. He was an excellent qualifier last year when his average qualifying position was 3.75. He had seven No. 1 qualifiers and qualified in the top-five positions at 19 of the 24 events last year.

■ Prior to reaching the final round in Charlotte, Langdon’s silver Al-Anabi car was running well in 2014 despite winning just three rounds in the season’s first four races. He qualified second at the season-opening race in Pomona, Calif., but lost a very close drag race to his teammate, Khalid alBalooshi (3.73 to 3.76 seconds with a .007 margin of victory), in the second round and alBalooshi went on to win the race. In Phoenix, he was the No. 4 qualifier but lost to race winner Antron Brown in the second round when the engine on the Al-Anabi dragster dropped a cylinder. In Gainesville, Langdon claimed his first No. 1 qualifier of the season but lost in the first round. The silver Al-Anabi dragster has been competing at a very high level all season despite some unfortunate racing luck.

■ Langdon was the Houston runner-up last year. He was the No. 3 qualifier; he defeated Tony Schumacher, Terry McMillen and his teammate, Khalid alBalooshi, before losing to Bob Vandergriff in the final round. The Al-Anabi Racing Team won at Royal Purple Raceway in 2010 and set the Top Fuel track-record elapsed time, 3.772 seconds, with driver Larry Dixon – that record still stands in 2014.

■ Langdon and the silver Al-Anabi Racing Team were featured prominently in an episode of Rise of the Machines, a 10-part series airing on H2. The “Ultimate Dragster” episode features Langdon and the Al-Anabi team from the time the team arrived in Pomona last November to the championship celebration after the team clinched the 2013 title as well as 2012 NHRA Mello Yello Top Fuel World champion Antron Brown and his MATCO Tools team’s quest for a come-from-behind championship in season’s the final weekend. While the focus is on the cars driven by these two World Champions, the episode also delves into the psyche of NHRA competition and what it takes for these 8,000 horsepower machines to routinely reach 320 mph from a standing start in less than four seconds. “Ultimate Dragster” aired on April 15, but it will be also air on Tuesday, April 29 at 11 p.m. eastern time and Wednesday, April 30 at 3 a.m. eastern time on H2. In addition, “Ultimate Dragster” is available on the H2 website: http://www.history.com/shows/rise-of-the-machines/episodes

■ Langdon leads the career head-to-head series with his teammate, Khalid alBalooshi, 5-2. In 2012, Langdon defeated alBalooshi in the first round at Sonoma, Calif., and alBalooshi defeated Langdon in the semifinals at Reading, Pa.; both won their respective races. In 2013, Langdon defeated alBalooshi in the Pomona1 semifinals and won the race, the Houston semifinals and the Englishtown finals. This year, alBalooshi defeated Langdon in the second round at Pomona and went onto win the race, and Langdon defeated alBalooshi in the first round at Las Vegas.

■ Langdon is 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 during their championship seasons 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.

■ 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, fourth and fifth-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. Langdon defeated Brittany Force, Antron Brown and Steve Torrence on his way to winning the second-year special event and its $100,000 prize. He went on to win the U.S. Nationals the next day.

■ The Al-Anabi Racing Team has won 40 races in its first five seasons (2009 -’13) 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. Including the 2014 season, the Al-Anabi Racing Team has now won 41 races.

■ Langdon qualified for the Countdown to the Championship NHRA Playoffs in each of his five previous seasons driving a Top Fuel car. He won the 2013 NHJRA Mello Yello Top Fuel World Championship last year, finished fourth in 2012 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 Houston:
“I feel great about what’s going on with our race team right now. The Al-Anabi car has definitely been making big improvements in the areas that we’ve been working on for the last few races. Even though we struggled at the beginning of the year, we still felt like we had a great car. We just missed a couple calls on Sunday. We were able to make a lot good calls on Sunday in Charlotte, and the car responded well. Counting qualifying, we made seven great runs in Charlotte, and the car went down the track throughout the weekend so we’re hoping to carry that momentum into Houston this weekend.

“We did well in Houston last year; the Al-Anabi car was good, and we were the runner-up. We made a little mistake in the final, and the car smoked the tires at the starting line. We were able to learn from that, and that actually helped us get the car running quite a bit better throughout the rest of the year. Just knowing a couple little changes that we made for that final didn’t work taught us something, and we were able to avoid those mistakes the rest of the year. We’re going into Houston this year with good thoughts and a lot of confidence. We’re hoping this Al-Anabi team can get the job done this year.

“The Top Fuel class is tough this year; it’s really been tough for the last few years. Teams have to get the maximum potential out of the car every time it pulls up to the starting line. Sometimes, you get a little bit too aggressive, and it smokes the tires. With all of the things the Al-Anabi team has been tinkering with throughout this year, the early part of this season has been a learning process for the crew chiefs (Brian Husen and alBalooshi crew chief Jason McCulloch) and for Alan (team manager Alan Johnson). Sometimes it just takes a couple races to get things figured out, and that’s what’s happened to the Al-Anabi team this year. The first couple of races, the cars were running well…..we just didn’t have the consistency we were used to having, and now that we’re getting things figured out, that consistency is coming back around. Hopefully, the results will follow.”

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
2014 wins/final rounds: 1/1 (1.000)
Career wins/final rounds: 3/5 (.600)
2014 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)

■ Dubai native Khalid alBalooshi enters the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals in sixth place in the NHRA Mello Yello Top Fuel point standings. He trails fifth-place Tony Schumacher by 26 points and leads seventh-place Spencer Massey by two points.

■ AlBalooshi, the first Middle Eastern driver to compete in a major United States Motorsports series, won the season-opening Circle K NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, Calif., in February. It was the third Top Fuel win of his career. Following that race, he was the points leader for the first time in his Top Fuel career.

■ With his season-opening win, alBalooshi became the first Top Fuel driver to qualify for the 2014 Traxxas Nitro Shootout. The third-year special event for eight Top Fuel teams and eight Funny Car teams is set for Indianapolis during the U.S. Nationals on Labor Day weekend. AlBalooshi also qualified for the Traxxas Nitro Shootout last year but was eliminated in the first round.

■ Earlier this month at the Four-Wide Nationals near Charlotte, alBalooshi was the No. 3 qualifier – his best qualifying effort of the season. In eliminations, he defeated Richie Crampton and Sidnei Frigo in the first round before losing to J.R. Todd and Doug Kalitta in the four-wide semifinals.

■ One year ago at Royal Purple Raceway, alBalooshi was the No. 2 qualifier – his career best; he defeated J.R. Todd and Spencer Massey before losing to his teammate, Shawn Langdon, in the semifinals. The Al-Anabi Racing Team won at Royal Purple Raceway in 2010 and set the Top Fuel track record elapsed time, 3.772 seconds with driver Larry Dixon – a record that still stands today.

■ AlBalooshi finished a career-best eighth in the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Top Fuel point standings. He won a race and recorded two runner-up finishes along the way. Now a three-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 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. He won the NHRA Nationals in Reading, Pa., in 2012 – his first-career Top Fuel victory.

■ AlBalooshi’s rookie year was a story of two very different half seasons. In the first half of the 2012 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 standings, 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 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; he now has 162 career wins.

AlBalooshi prior to Houston:
“Our Al-Anabi car was very good in Charlotte (two weeks ago); we made good runs in qualifying and on race day. I think our car will also be fast this weekend. We started out the season perfectly, but after that, we had some tough races. I have been talking with our crew chief, Jason (McCulloch), and after Charlotte, I think we have our hot rod back. From what we did in Charlotte, I think we are getting close to running the way we did earlier this year. I know our car will keep on getting better and better and better. I am looking forward to racing again this weekend – we were good at this race last year; we can be good again this time.”

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