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2014 NHRA: The Al-Anabi Racing Team - Brainerd, Minn. NHRA Preview
Posted by: newsla on Aug 13, 2014 - 06:58 AM
NHRA
2014 NHRA: The Al-Anabi Racing Team - Brainerd, Minn. 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: 1/5 (.200)
Career wins/final rounds: 9/23 (.391)
2014 No. 1 qualifiers: 3
Career No. 1 qualifiers: 16
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 world champion Shawn Langdon enters the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in third place in the NHRA Mello Yello Top Fuel point standings. He trails second-place Antron Brown by 123 points and leads fourth-place Tony Schumacher by 147 points. Langdon has qualified for the Countdown to the Championship NHRA Playoffs.

■ Langdon has advanced to at least the semifinals at eight of the last 12 races. He won his first race of the season and the ninth of his career in June in Bristol, Tenn. He has one win (Bristol), four final rounds (Charlotte, Topeka, Norwalk and Sonoma) and three semifinal appearances (Houston, Englishtown and Seattle) in the last 12 races.

■ The Al-Anabi Team won at Brainerd International Raceway in 2010 with driver Larry Dixon. One year ago in Brainerd, Langdon was the No. 4 qualifier; he defeated Bob Vandergriff and David Grubnic before losing to Clay Millican in the semifinals.

■ On Tuesday, Aug. 5, Langdon was in St. Louis to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the game between the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals. Langdon was an accomplished baseball player in high school and turned down a chance to play college baseball when he decided to pursue a Motorsports career. Throwing out the first pitch at a Major League Baseball game is a life-long dream for Langdon.

■ Langdon has been a solid qualifier this season; he has qualified in the top-five positions at 10 of the 16 races; his average qualifying position in 2014 is 5.06. He has three No. 1 qualifiers this season and 16 in his career. He was an excellent qualifier last year when his average qualifying position was 3.75.


■ With his June Bristol win, Langdon qualified for the 2014 Traxxas Nitro Shootout in Indianapolis on Labor Day weekend. Langdon is the defending champion of the special event; last year, he defeated Brittany Force, Antron Brown and Steve Torrence on his way to winning the second-year event and its $100,000 prize. He went on to win the U.S. Nationals the next day.

■ Langdon and his teammate Khalid alBalooshi have raced each other 10 times in their respective Top Fuel careers, and in six of the 10 meetings, the winner has gone on to win the race. Langdon leads the career head-to-head series, 7-3.

■ Langdon is the reigning NHRA Mello Yello Top Fuel World Champion for the first time in his career. The 2013 title was Langdon’s fourth NHRA National Championship. He won the 1997 NHRA Junior Dragster National Championship in the 14 year old 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.

■ Last year’s NHRA Mello Yello Top Fuel World Championship was the third in the last four seasons for the Al-Anabi Racing Team. Larry Dixon won in 2010, and Del Worsham won in 2011. When Langdon won the title 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, Dixon and 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.

■ Including former Al-Anabi drivers Larry Dixon and Del Worsham, the Al-Anabi Racing Team won 39 races and three World Championships in its first five seasons (2009 -’13) for an average of 7.8 wins a season or nearly a third of the races. Including the 2014 season, the Al-Anabi Racing Team has now won 42 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-year old division making him a three-time NHRA national series champion.

Langdon prior to Brainerd:
“The Al-Anabi team had a pretty good weekend in Seattle, and we’re looking forward to Brainerd this weekend. Our car is getting pretty consistent - we made a lot of strong runs in Seattle. We’ve put together a pretty solid tune-up now, but we just need to fine-tune a couple of things. We’ve addressed a lot of the issues and changed a lot in the last couple of races and really feel like the last couple of races, we’ve come across something really good that we’re able to work with. We feel confident with our race car as we wind down the regular season.

“With the way the Al-Anabi car ran in Sonoma and Seattle, we don’t just have a car that’s good, we have a car that has potential to be great. A couple of our runs we made down the track in Seattle, like when we set low ET (elapsed time) of the weekend in the first round of eliminations, the car was so good, and we saw after it that we could have made it a little bit better. The car is manageable; it wants to run. We just need to build up a little more confidence in making the right calls and adjustments with it. We’re making huge strides with our tune-up. We don’t just have a car that’s capable of going down the race track, we have a car that’s capable of setting low ET (elapsed time).

“I think the Al-Anabi team may be starting to peak at the perfect time. Looking at our numbers, we have a good hold on getting the car to 60 feet and then to 330 feet pretty well. From there, it’s a matter of making the right final calls with the clutch. As Alan (team manager Alan Johnson) and Brian (crew chief Brian Husen) get a couple more runs under their belt, it’s just a matter of building their confidence. Our team has a bounce in its step again; once the team gets its full confidence back, I think we’ll have a great Countdown (Countdown to the Championship NHRA Playoffs)..

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: 2/3 (.667)
Career wins/final rounds: 4/7 (.571)
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)

■ Third-year Top Fuel driver Khalid alBalooshi enters the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in eighth place in the NHRA Mello Yello Top Fuel point standings. He trails seventh-place Brittany Force by one point and leads ninth-place Richie Crampton by 47 points. With two races to go on the regular season, he leads 10th place J.R. Todd by 81 points and leads 11th-place Bob Vandergriff by 209 points. The top-10 drivers in points qualify for the Countdown to the Championship NHRA Playoffs.

■ AlBalooshi won the 27th annual NHRA Sonoma Nationals three weeks ago in Sonoma, Calif. It was his second win of the season and the fourth of his career. The win was extra special because it happened on his 35th birthday. The 2014 season marks the first time that alBalooshi has recorded multiple Top Fuel wins in the same season. Two weeks ago in Seattle, alBalooshi was the No. 6 qualifier. He defeated Brittany Force before losing to his teammate, Shawn Langdon, in the quarterfinals.

■ AlBalooshi has swept the NHRA races in California this season. He won the season-opening NHRA Circle K Winternationals in Pomona, Calif., in February and the NHRA Sonoma Nationals in July. Last season, alBalooshi’s teammate, Shawn Langdon, swept all three California races winning the Circle K Winternationals, the Sonoma Nationals and the season ending NHRA Auto Club Finals in Pomona, Calif. So the Al-Anabi Racing Team has won the last five NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series events in the state of California

■ The Al-Anabi Team won at Brainerd International Raceway in Brainerd, Minn., in 2010 with driver Larry Dixon. One year ago at Brainerd, alBalooshi was the No. 3 qualifier; he T.J. Zizzo and Doug Kalitta before losing to Spencer Massey in the semifinals.

■ AlBalooshi, the first Middle East native to compete in a major United States Motorsports Series, has two wins, a runner-up finish and a semifinal appearance this season. In his two previous Top Fuel seasons, he finished eighth last year and 13th in his 2012 rookie season.

■ 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 and his teammate Shawn Langdon have raced each other 10 times in their respective Top Fuel careers, and in six of the 10 meetings, the winner has gone on to win the race. Langdon leads the career head-to-head series, 7-3.

■ 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.

■ Prior to the 2014 season, alBalooshi had two race wins. He won the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio in 2013 and the NHRA Nationals in Reading, Pa., in 2012, his rookie season.

■ Including former Al-Anabi drivers Larry Dixon and Del Worsham, the Al-Anabi Racing Team won 39 races three World Championships in its first five seasons (2009 -’13) for an average of 7.8 wins a season or nearly a third of the races. Including the 2014 season, the Al-Anabi Racing Team has now won 42 races.

■ 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 Brainerd:

“The gold Al-Anabi team had a good weekend two weeks ago in Seattle. I have been saying since Norwalk that we had our car back, and two weeks ago in Seattle, it showed. The car was consistent, and I think now it is a good time to get the car to be perfect. Now we can get the car how we need it to be for the rest of the (regular) season and then the playoffs (Countdown to the Championship NHRA Playoffs).

“After the last two races, we are looking good for the playoffs now. In Brainerd this weekend, we need to try our best to keep winning rounds. We are one point from seventh and two rounds from sixth. If we can catch two good weeks, maybe we can start the Countdown No. 6 in the points. We have a good chance to start the Countdown in sixth or seventh. Our goal is to get to No. 6. I think we can catch two good weeks - why not?”

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