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2014 NHRA: The Al-Anabi Racing Team - Topeka, Kan., NHRA Preview
Posted by: newsla on May 21, 2014 - 03:34 PM
2014 NHRA: The Al-Anabi Racing Team - Topeka, Kan., 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


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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)

■ Reigning NHRA Mello Yello Top Fuel champion Shawn Langdon enters the NHRA Kansas 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 42 points and leads fifth-place Spencer Massey by seven points.

■ Langdon is the defending champion of the NHRA Kansas Nationals. One year ago, he was the No. 1 qualifier; he defeated Pat Dakin, Steve Torrence, Spencer Massey and Tony Schumacher on his way to his second victory of the 2013 season. The Al-Anabi Racing Team also won at Heartland Park Topeka in 2009 with driver Larry Dixon.

■ Langdon has been an excellent qualifier this season; he has qualified in the top-four positions at five of the seven races. He has two No. 1 qualifiers this season and 15 in his career. Langdon’s average qualifying position in 2014 is 3.86. He was also 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.

■ After an uncharacteristic slow start to the season, Langdon has advanced to the final round of eliminations, the semifinals and the quarterfinals at the last three races respectively. One race ago at Atlanta Dragway on Monday, Langdon was the No. 8 qualifier. He defeated Richie Crampton before losing to points leader Doug Kalitta in a second-round matchup with was decided by three thousandths of a second.

■ Prior to reaching the final round in Charlotte, Langdon’s silver Al-Anabi car was running well 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 had been competing at a very high level despite some unfortunate racing luck.

■ 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 NHRA 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 Topeka:
“We’ve been chasing a couple of things in the Al-Anabi tune-up for the last few races, and we strongly believe we have addressed a couple of those problems now. With the exception of a couple of runs this past weekend when things came up with the weather and the track, we were able to make some strong runs when things went right for us. So that’s definitely promising for the Al-Anabi team. We still haven’t gotten that first win of the season yet, but going to a familiar track like Topeka where we’ve had a lot of success and going back as the defending champion, we’ll probably have more confidence rolling into Topeka this week than any other track.
“It’s always good when you go to a place where you’re familiar with the track and the weather conditions. Last year, we made some really strong runs at Topeka where we were able to separate ourselves from the field by a couple hundredths of a second. Hopefully we can duplicate what we did there last year, learn from what we’ve been working on with the Al-Anabi car this year and continue to make strong runs this weekend - especially on Sunday.
“Right now, we’re getting all the bugs worked out and progressing. It’s all about working hard to take these Al-Anabi cars to the next level. If you get complacent and become content with what you have, the competition will pass you. We had a great year last year, and at times, the Al-Anabi car was dominant. We’re trying to get the car that much stronger for the future. Sometimes that’s a learning process where you have to take one step back so you can take two steps forward. We’re definitely in that stage right now, but we still feel very confident that we are close to having our championship car back.”

For additional information on team manager Alan Johnson or Shawn Langdon, please visitwww.alanabiracing.com to view their full bios.

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: 1/2 (.500)
Career wins/final rounds: 3/6 (.500)
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 NHRA Kansas Nationals in sixth place in the NHRA Mello Yello Top Fuel point standings. He trails fifth-place Spencer Massey by 41 points and leads seventh-place Tony Schumacher by six points.

■ AlBalooshi advanced to his second final round of the season last month in Houston; he is off to the best start of his three-year Top Fuel career. In the first six races of the season, alBalooshi had a win, a runner-up finish and nine round wins; he was fifth in points. Last year at that time, he had two semifinal appearances, six round wins and was tied for sixth in points. Six races into his 2012 rookie season, he had no round wins and was 13th in points. The first Middle Eastern driver to compete in a major United States Motorsports series has made tremendous progress since his rookie season.

■ One race ago at Atlanta Dragway, alBalooshi was the No. 12 qualifier and lost to Tony Schumacher in the first round of eliminations Monday morning.

■ AlBalooshi was the No. 4 qualifier at Topeka last year. In eliminations, he defeated Brittany Force before losing to Spencer Massey in the quarterfinals. The Al-Anabi Racing Team won at Heartland Park Topeka last year with driver Shawn Langdon and in 2009 with driver Larry Dixon.

■ With his season-opening win at the Circle K NHRA Winternationals in February, 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.

■ 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.

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