BRAINERD, MN – August 11, 2016 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – Shawn Langdon might not have won a year ago at Brainerd International Raceway but the former Top Fuel world champion fondly recalls what took place thanks to stellar conditions during eliminations.
Langdon ran an incredible 3.662 at 321.12 mph, setting a massive career-best elapsed time en route to a semifinal finish on a day that featured multiple runs in the 3.60s from Top Fuel standouts.
Now feeling even more comfortable driving his 10,000-horsepower Red Fuel dragster as part of the Don Schumacher Racing team, Langdon, who won back-to-back races earlier this year, is hoping for similar conditions and results when he returns to Brainerd for the 35th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, Aug. 18-21.
“Last year was my favorite year racing at Brainerd with those cool temperatures and great conditions,” said Langdon, who is currently seventh in the Top Fuel points standings. “We ran a 3.66 there and you just look at what took place last weekend in Seattle with the cooler temperatures. You see how good the racing is with those types of conditions and that’s what I live for.
“Brainerd is always a fun event with the fans there and we always enjoy it. But there’s a lot of good running cars right now, so a lot of times it comes down to the driver. If you stink off the line, there’s a good chance you’re going to lose. I like that tight, competitive racing where every little thousandth of a second counts, and hopefully we’ll have another year like we did last year in Brainerd.”
Richie Crampton (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car), Erica Enders (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the pivotal NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event that will be broadcast on FS1 for the first time. The race is also the 17th of 24 events in the 2016 season and, more importantly, the penultimate race of the regular season before the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship begins.
It comes at an important time for Langdon, who is looking to build momentum and possibly a top five starting point when the six-race NHRA playoffs begins. That will take another impressive performance in Brainerd, but regardless of what position Langdon is in when the Countdown starts, he strongly believes his team can compete for a championship.
“I feel very confident that we could go to that first race in Charlotte right now and compete for a championship,” said Langdon, who has 13 career victories. “We still have a little ways to go and you’re constantly trying to find ways to improve, but we have had a great car for the majority of the year. Everyone is getting into that Countdown mode and it’s getting near crunch time, but I feel very confident right now.”
After a slow start, including five straight first-round losses to open the season, Langdon and his team, led by crew chief Phil Shuler, have found their comfort level over the summer. Langdon has lost just twice in the first round in the last 11 events, winning consecutive races in Bristol and Norwalk.
But with an important stretch starting in Brainerd and continuing through the Countdown to the Championship, don’t expect Langdon, who won a Top Fuel world championship in 2013, to change his style.
“My driving style is I bring it all year long, from the first test session of the year to the last race of the season in Pomona,” Langdon said. “I’m going to bring it 100 percent every single time and I’m going to give it my all every time. With my driving style and how I mentally prepare myself I try to do the same thing every time, and I try to do that in the Countdown. I really believe if I stay on my game I feel like we have a great chance at the championship.”
To do that and also get his third win of the season in Brainerd, Langdon will have to top a number of talented drivers, including points leader and reigning world champion Antron Brown. The star-studded list also includes three-time Brainerd winner and eight-time world champ Tony Schumacher, three-time 2016 winner Doug Kalitta, J.R. Todd, who won in Sonoma, Texan Steve Torrence, Brittany Force, Leah Pritchett and defending event winner Crampton.
But after racing for DSR during the Countdown a year ago, Langdon has become even more acclimated with his team in 2016 and the results of that have been apparent over the last few months.
“I probably feel a little more comfortable now,” Langdon said. “We’ve gone 16 races and we’ve gotten in the groove of knowing what to expect from one another. It’s a great group of guys to work with. The whole Don Schumacher Racing organization has been an easy transition for me and I’ve just gotten more comfortable as the season has progressed.”
In Funny Car, Hight defeated Tommy Johnson Jr. here one year ago to notch his first victory of the 2015 season. Everyone is chasing points leader Ron Capps, who has four wins in 2016, but Capps, who has five Brainerd victories, will have his hands full. He will deal with a loaded class that includes 11-time Brainerd winner John Force, who has won back-to-back races in 2016, Jack Beckman, Courtney Force, reigning world champion Del Worsham, Matt Hagan and Tim Wilkerson.
Pro Stock’s Erica Enders raced to her fifth victory of the 2015 season last year en route to her second consecutive world championship, but it’s been a different story in 2016. Enders is still after her first win, while Jason Line and Greg Anderson both have seven victories in what has been a dominant campaign for the teammates thus far. Others to watch in Pro Stock include four-time Brainerd winner Jeg Coughlin, Bo Butner, Allen Johnson, who won in Denver, 2015 top rookie Drew Skillman, Vincent Nobile, Chicago No. 1 qualifier Shane Gray and Texan Chris McGaha.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Krawiec powered to his third consecutive victory of the 2015 season last year at Brainerd International Raceway and is the current points leader. His teammate and reigning world champion Andrew Hines is right behind in second thanks to three victories this season. But the Pro Stock Motorcycle field and deep and talented, and features the likes of LE Tonglet, who won in Sonoma, Angelle Sampey, who recently won her first race since 2007 in Englishtown, N.J., Jerry Savoie, veteran Steve Johnson, Matt Smith, Hector Arana, Hector Arana Jr. and Chip Ellis.
The Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals will also feature thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, where the future stars of the sport earn their racing stripes.
As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity in motorsports gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand how the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 3 and 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 19, and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, Aug. 20, at 1 and 3:30 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 21.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call 218-824-RACE (7223) or 866-444-4455. Tickets also are available online at www.brainerdraceway.com. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. For more information about the NHRA visit www.NHRA.com.
LUCAS OIL NHRA NATIONALS
WHAT: 35th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, the 17th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Drivers in four categories – Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle – earn points leading to 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championships. The NHRA Lucas Oil Series also will be featured at this event.
WHERE: Brainerd International Raceway and Resort, Brainerd, Minn. Track is located a few miles north of the Brainerd area off Highway 371. The track is located on the east side of the highway.
COURSE: Championship drag strip; Track elevation is 1,200 feet above sea level; Track direction is west to east.
WHEN: Thursday through Sunday, Aug. 18-21
THURSDAY, Aug. 18 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying
FRIDAY, Aug. 19 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 3 and 5:30 p.m.
SATURDAY, Aug. 20 – LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 1 and 3:30 p.m.
SUNDAY, Aug. 21 – Pre-race ceremonies, 10 a.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES eliminations begin at 11 a.m.
Saturday, Aug. 20, FS1 will televise thirty minutes of live coverage at 3 p.m. (ET).
Saturday, Aug. 20, FS1 will televise two hours of qualifying coverage at 10 p.m. (ET).
Sunday, Aug. 21, FS1 will televise three hours of live finals coverage starting at 2 p.m. (ET).
2015 EVENT WINNERS: Richie Crampton, Top Fuel; Robert Hight, Funny Car; Erica Enders, Pro Stock; Eddie Krawiec, Pro Stock Motorcycle.
MOST VICTORIES: John Force, 11, FC; Joe Amato, 6, TF; Kenny Bernstein, 5, FC/TF; Antron Brown, 5, TF/PSM; Ron Capps, 5, FC; Bruce Allen, 4, PS; Jeg Coughlin, 4, PS; Bob Glidden, 4, PS; Kurt Johnson, 4, PS; Warren Johnson, 4, PS.
Top Fuel – 3.662 sec. by Shawn Langdon, Aug. ’15; 332.75 mph by Spencer Massey, Aug. ’15.
Funny Car – 3.879 sec. and 329.58 mph by Matt Hagan, Aug. ’15.
Pro Stock – 6.541 sec. by Erica Enders, Aug. ’15; 211.39 mph by Shane Gray, Aug. ’15.
Pro Stock Motorcycle – 6.788 sec. and 197.39 by Eddie Krawiec, Aug. ’15.
Top Fuel – 3.671 sec. by Steve Torrence, July ’16, Sonoma, Calif.; 332.75 mph by Spencer Massey, Aug. ’15, Brainerd, Minn.
Funny Car – 3.832 sec. by Del Worsham, Aug. ’16, Seattle; 335.57 mph by Matt Hagan, May ’16, Topeka, Kan.
Pro Stock – 6.455 sec. by Jason Line, March ’15, Charlotte, N.C.; 215.55 mph by Erica Enders, May ‘14, Englishtown N.J.
PS Motorcycle – 6.728 sec. by Andrew Hines, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.; 199.88 mph by Hector Arana Jr., March ’15, Charlotte, N.C.
TICKETS: Order tickets by phone at (218) 824-RACE (7223). Tickets also are available online at www.brainerdraceway.com.
Source: National Hot Rod Association