LANGDON, BECKMAN, LAUGHLIN AND SAVOIE COLLECT VICTORIES AT AAA INSURANCE NHRA MIDWEST NATIONALS: Shawn Langdon raced to his third victory of the year last Sunday at the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park just outside of St. Louis. Jack Beckman (Funny Car), Alex Laughlin (Pro Stock) and Jerry Savoie (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were also victorious at the 20th event of 24 on the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule. The AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals is the second race of the six-race NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship. Langdon powered his Red Fuel/Sandvik Coromant dragster to a 3.798-second pass at 323.66 mph to defeat eight-time world champion Tony Schumacher’s 3.783 at 317.49 in his U.S. Army dragster on a holeshot. Langdon notched his 14th career win and first at Gateway Motorsports Park.
“We didn’t really have a dominant car in qualifying, but we just kept picking away at it,” said Langdon, who also won in Bristol and Norwalk. “That’s what we’ve been doing since we got those two victories [earlier this year]. The car has just responded well. All in all, this was a great team effort. The whole team did a great job and gave me a great race car today.”
MELLO YELLO COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP WILL HIT MIDPOINT AT DODGE NHRA NATIONALS: The 32nd annual Dodge NHRA Nationals will serve as the halfway marker of the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship playoffs. With only four races remaining to make a move for a world championship, fans will be in for some of the most intense drag racing of the season, September 29–October 2, at Maple Grove Raceway. Drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle will battle side-by-side in an attempt to continue their momentum from the first two races. Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Jack Beckman (Funny Car), Chris McGaha (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the event that will be televised for the first time on FOX Sports 1 (FS1). In 2015, Brown increased his Top Fuel Countdown to the Championship round record to 12–0 with a victory over teammate Tony Schumacher at Maple Grove Raceway. The win was the 2015 Top Fuel world champion’s third consecutive and marked the best start in the history of the Countdown.
KALITTA ENJOYING THE MOMENT AS CHAMPIONSHIP RACE HEIGHTENS: One of the big storylines of the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship is Doug Kalitta and Ron Capps chasing their first career world championships in Top Fuel and Funny Car, respectively. Capps and Kalitta rank first and second for drivers with the most wins without a championship, and both seemed poised to end that string. Capps has five wins in 2016 and is the Funny Car points leader, while three-time season winner Kalitta sits in second, just 13 points behind reigning Top Fuel world champion Antron Brown. Racing for his first world championship may bring extra pressure, but Kalitta is only focused on the immediate task at hand in his 10,000-hp Mac Tools/DeWalt FlexVolt dragster, which is doing well at this weekend’s 32nd annual Dodge NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway.
“At this point we can control our own destiny, so we are just taking each race as its own and doing our best,” said Kalitta, whose 41 wins rank fifth in Top Fuel history. “Every race we have left is a little different, and you just have to be prepared. I have the best team and group of people surrounding me, and I am excited to see what we can do.”
He Said, She Said
“It’s an unbelievable feeling. It’s not even real at this point. This has got to be a dream. The whole day has been a blur. Took it one round at a time and ended up coming up to the final. I was a little nervous but took a couple deep breaths and told myself, ‘It’s just like any other round, just go up there and do your deal.’ As soon as I let the clutch out, I knew my crew chief gave me a good car. Once you get it to third gear and that thing isn’t shaking or moving around I knew we had it made. I plugged it in high gear, looked over and Bo (Butner) wasn’t around. I thought as long as I wasn’t red we’ve got it. I crossed the finish line and saw the win light and that is when I started to get excited.”
—Alex Laughlin on recording his first career win in Pro Stock at the recent event in St. Louis. Laughlin faced Bo Butner in the final and got the win in his first final-round appearance.
Inside the Numbers
3.897: Number in seconds of the Funny Car track record at Maple Grove Raceway set last season by Jack Beckman in his Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger R/T. Beckman was the No. 1 qualifier at the event and raced to the event win when he defeated Chad Head in the final. It was his seventh win of the season and propelled him to second in points. At the time, his run was the national elapsed time record, which has since been broken several times. The current Funny Car ET record is 3.822 set by Matt Hagan at the Brainerd event this season.
Did You Know
LUCAS TAKES INDIANA BICENTENNIAL ON HIGH-SPEED RUN: Top Fuel racer and team owner Morgan Lucas gave the Indiana Bicentennial Torch a high-speed ride on his 10,000hp Lucas Oil dragster on September 23, to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Indiana statehood. The event took place at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis located in Brownsburg within Hendricks County, Indiana. A ceremony kicked off day 13 of the torch relay—a five-week celebration, which will see the torch visit all 92 counties in the state. The torch, mounted on the back of the dragster, was lit by Jeff Boles, a longtime Hendricks County Circuit Judge. Lucas then gave the trophy a trip down the track with his father Forrest and mother Charlotte cheering him on.
“To be able to represent the Brownsburg community and drag racing for the state, especially considering how much drag racing does for the local economy, is an honor,” Lucas said. “We made one run. It went well, but it could’ve gone better. We dropped a cylinder at the step, but I ran it out as far as I could. You know what? Nobody else is going to get the torch to go as fast as we did. We can say that with a sense of pride.”