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May 28, 2014 - 07:11 AM
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2014 NHRA: The Al-Anabi Racing Team - Englishtown, N.J., NHRA Preview
Posted by: newsla on May 28, 2014 - 07:05 AM
NHRA
2014 NHRA: The Al-Anabi Racing Team - Englishtown, N.J., NHRA Preview


■ Reigning NHRA Mello Yello Top Fuel champion Shawn Langdon enters the Toyota NHRA Summer Nationals in fourth place in the NHRA Mello Yello Top Fuel point standings; it is his highest points position of the season. He trails third-place Spencer Massey by seven points and leads fifth-place Steve Torrence by 16 points. Langdon is now just 145 points behind class leader Doug Kalitta.

 

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■ Langdon has two final rounds (Charlotte and Topeka) and a semifinal appearance (Houston) in the last four races. Langdon has not yet reached the winner’s circle this season, but recent performance suggests the team has returned to the form that propelled it to the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Top Fuel World Championship.

■ Despite not having won a race this season, Langdon is surprisingly close to his points total at this time last year. One year ago, Langdon had won twice and amassed 631 points. This year, Langdon has two final-round appearances and one semifinal, but he has accrued 559 points. He trails his points total from this time last year by just 32 points.

■ Langdon is the defending champion of the Toyota NHRA Summer Nationals. One year ago, he was the No. 8 qualifier; he defeated T.J. Zizzo, Clay Millican, Spencer Massey and his teammate, Khalid alBalooshi, on his way to his third victory of the 2013 season. The Al-Anabi Racing Team also won at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in 2009 and ‘10 with driver Larry Dixon.

■ Langdon has been an excellent qualifier this season; he has qualified in the top-four positions at six of the eight races. He has two No. 1 qualifiers this season and 15 in his career. Langdon’s average qualifying position in 2014 is 3.75. He was also an excellent qualifier last year when his average qualifying position was also 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 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 Englishtown:

“Having such a great car last weekend in Topeka, the Al-Anabi team has definitely turned it around. We’ve definitely improved our tune-up, and that’s something we’ve been working really hard on for the last couple of races. To be able to have our race car back on Sunday is definitely a good feeling. It gives us that confidence heading into Englishtown this weekend.

“It would be nice to get our first win of the season this weekend for a lot of reasons. Englishtown has always been a great track; we’ve always enjoyed going there, and there’s a lot of NHRA history there. Winning the Toyota Summer Nationals last year, coming back as the defending champion this year and coming off a great race at Topeka, we are definitely feeling good vibes heading into Englishtown this weekend. We had the all Al-Anabi, all Toyota final round there last year so our goal this weekend is to do that again.

“As a driver you enjoy these long stretches with a lot of races in a short amount of time. (10 races in 12 weeks) But it’s pretty tough on the crew guys that are working so hard every week and driving all these miles between races. So as the driver, you want to do a good job and reward the crew guys with good results on the track. They work on the cars and provide a good, safe car. You want to stay sharp and stay ready for anything so that way, if you can get those round wins, and hopefully the event win, it makes it that much more rewarding for the crew guys and gives them that little push as they are heading to the next couple of races.”

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