Alan Johnson sent the warning his team would come alive at the right time. His driver Shawn Langdon provided the proof.
Johnson and the Al-Anabi Racing Top Fuel team embarked on a new combination earlier this season intending to reach competitive strength once the Countdown arrived. The timing couldn’t have proven any more perfect as Langdon captured the No. 1 qualifying position at the NHRA Mac Tools U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis.
This is the fourth pole position of Langdon's career and first in Indy. It was his first since joining Al-Anabi Racing in 2012.
“I think with the last few races we’ve seen the car respond very well to the changes they’ve made,” said Langdon. “We’ve been working on it all year. It’s been slowly progressing and hasn’t been as quickly progressing as they wanted. Fortunately, just having a great group of guys working on the car that are very understanding and working under the philosophy of ‘Alan will get it figured out’, we’ve tried to give him the best possible car. It’s starting to pay off now and we are starting to make some good runs.”
Langdon had a monster run during Saturday’s final qualifying session with a 3.740 elapsed time, the fourth quickest in Top Fuel history, established a new track record of 326.48 miles per hour at Lucas Oil Raceway Park at Indianapolis.
“Seeing Antron’s run ahead of us, a 3.76, showed it was out there,” Langdon admitted. “That 3.74 … that’s a very stout run.”
For Langdon, the run was an opportunity to show he’s a seasoned veteran at 30 years and six days old. He is the oldest professional low qualifier at this year's Indianapolis event.
“First time that’s ever happened,” said Langdon, who entered the Top Fuel ranks after winning two Lucas Oil Drag Racing series championships. “It just goes to show you there’s a bright future ahead for this sport and hopefully for guys like me even though I’m 30 and feel old.”
Armed with the confidence of a historic run, Langdon is ready for Sunday’s rain-delayed final eliminations. He’s hoping for his first win after five career final rounds, the most recent coming at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in Brainerd, Minn.
“The last few months, in talking to Alan, I know it’s close,” Langdon said. “He keeps telling us, it’s there and to keep being patient. I think everyone [on the team] has been patient and knew this was there. Unfortunately, we couldn’t do it last weekend when Sheikh Khalid was out here. Obviously we want to show Sheikh Khalid we’ve had a championship contending car, and I think he knows that, he’s very patient too. I had a pretty good talk with him last weekend about that and he knows we have a pretty good shot at it this year. I don’t think anyone can count us out. We’ve got a car that will be there in Pomona.”
And by his actions under the lights Saturday evening, Langdon proved Johnson’s warning prophetic.
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