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Aug 26, 2014 - 07:28 PM
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2014 NHRA: The Al-Anabi Racing Team - NHRA U.S. Nationals Preview
Posted by: newsla on Aug 26, 2014 - 07:20 PM
NHRA
2014 NHRA: The Al-Anabi Racing Team - NHRA U.S. Nationals 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 Chevrolet Performance NHRA U.S. Nationals, the final race of the NHRA regular season, in third place in the NHRA Mello Yello Top Fuel point standings. He trails second-place Antron Brown by 150 points and leads fourth-place Tony Schumacher by 129 points. Langdon has qualified for the Countdown to the Championship NHRA Playoffs.

■ Langdon is the defending champion of the Chevrolet Performance NHRA U.S. Nationals; the Al-Anabi Team also won the U.S. Nationals in 2010 with driver Larry Dixon. Al-Anabi Racing team manager Alan Johnson has won the U.S. Nationals Top Fuel title eight times in various roles including crew chief, team owner and team manager. One year ago at the U.S. Nationals, Langdon was the No. 5 qualifier; he defeated Pat Dakin, Terry McMillen, Doug Kalitta and Steve Torrence on his way to the winner’s circle.

■ Langdon is also the defending champion of the Traxxas Nitro Shootout, the third-year special event for Top Fuel and Funny Car teams with $100,000 going to the winning team in each category. Last year, he defeated Brittany Force, Antron Brown and Steve Torrence on his way to the Traxxas Shootout title. With his Bristol win in June, Langdon became eligible for this year’s Traxxas Nitro Shootout.

■ Langdon has advanced to at least the semifinals at eight of the last 13 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 13 races. Two weeks ago in Brainerd, Minn., Langdon was the No. 3 qualifier; he defeated Terry McMillen before losing to Tony Schumacher in the quarterfinals.

■ On Wednesday, Aug. 27, Langdon will throw out the first pitch at the Indianapolis Indians game against the Louisville Bats as part of Toyota NHRA Fan Night at Victory Field in Indianapolis. The Indians are the Triple-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Earlier this month, 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 was a life-long dream.

■ Langdon has been a solid qualifier this season; he has qualified in the top-five positions at 11 of the 17 races; his average qualifying position in 2014 is 4.94. 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.

■ 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 the U.S. Nationals:
“The U.S. Nationals is always the biggest race of the year, but the toughest thing about Indy is the week leading up to the race with so many pre-race commitments and friends and family in town. It’s a long, hectic week, but it’s always enjoyable to be a part of the biggest race of the year. To be able to have the success we had last year and knowing where we are, it gives us something to strive for this year.

“Winning the U.S. Nationals last year ranked right up there next to winning the Mello Yello Championship and the last race of the season the same weekend in Pomona last November. In this day and age, with the competition so intense in Top Fuel, being able to double up and put on the performance the Al-Anabi team did at Indianapolis last year, it’s tough to do. Everything has to fall into place just right for that to happen. We’re just excited to get back out there this week and give it a shot again.

“It definitely gives us something to shoot for; that Traxxas Shootout is a tough race against the best cars of the season. It’s only race winners and the most popular driver that hasn’t won this year getting the last spot. You know you have the best of the best competing in the Traxxas Shootout, and then you have to do it all over again to win the U.S. Nationals. Those races just aren’t easy to win.

“We’ve had a couple of days of testing; we’re still fine-tuning some things. I don’t think we’re where we were last year with the things we’re continuing to work on, but I think we’re in a pretty good place now. The things we’re working on show a lot more promise than what we had last year. We were able to make the tune-up work very well last year, but the things we’re fine-tuning now are to keep our performance improving in the long run. It’s taken us a little more time that we anticipated, but we’ll get it sorted out.

“Even though Indy is not a part of the Countdown, the U.S. Nationals is a big enough race so that the importance of winning it is right there with winning a Countdown race. From now until the end of the season, every run we make down the track is critical and crucial towards winning the NHRA Mello Yello championship.”


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 Chevrolet Performance NHRA U.S. Nationals, the final race of the NHRA regular season, tied with Brittany Force for seventh place in the NHRA Mello Yello Top Fuel point standings. The two drivers trail sixth-place Spencer Massey by 65 points and lead ninth-place Richie Crampton by 41 points. AlBalooshi has clinched his spot in the Countdown to the Championship NHRA Playoffs.

■ The Al-Anabi Team won the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals last year with alBalooshi’s teammate, Shawn Langdon, and in 2010 with driver Larry Dixon. In addition, Al-Anabi Racing team manager Alan Johnson has won the U.S. Nationals Top Fuel title eight times in various roles including crew chief, team owner and team manager. One year ago at the U.S. Nationals, alBalooshi was the No. 10 qualifier; he defeated David Grubnic and Clay Millican before losing to Steve Torrence in the semifinals.

■ AlBalooshi will compete in this weekend’s Traxxas Nitro Shootout, the third-year special event for Top Fuel and Funny Car teams with $100,000 going to the winning team in each category. AlBalooshi also raced in the special event last year, but he was eliminated in the first round. 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.

■ AlBalooshi won the 27th annual NHRA Sonoma Nationals in July 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 Brainerd, Minn., alBalooshi was the No. 10 qualifier and lost to Spencer Massey in the first round of eliminations.

■ 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. The Al-Anabi Racing Team has won the last five NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series events in the state of California

■ 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 in the final point standings last year and 13th in his 2012 rookie season.

■ 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 the U.S. Nationals:

“This year, I really feel way different about the U.S. Nationals. I think we have a car that can compete with everybody. Our car is close to all of the fast cars, and especially with the good runs we made at the Indy test (open test session last week in Indianapolis). We used some of our new stuff; Jason (crew chief Jason McCulloch) is using some of the new stuff with some things we have already been doing, and we feel good about the Indy race. Our gold Al-Anabi car was one of the fastest in testing, and we tried some new things. Everything was working in the test, and it was the same conditions like we are going to race so I feel good about the race this week.

“We have our place in the Countdown. I was not worried about that; our crew chief and all of our crew guys do their best, and we all know we have a car to race now. I think we can win the U.S. Nationals - if our car is working exactly how we want it to, and we catch a little luck, why not? I have to try my best on race day to catch a good light and put the car in the groove. I have to do my best on everything I can do. I am excited about this race because I know our car is good enough to win it.”

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