Keeping Pace

Gray, Langdon, Line lead qualifying at NHRA Arizona Nationals

Johnny Gray stages his NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series machine for a run to the top of the Arizona Nationals qualifying ladder after Friday's first round. (Photo courtesy of NHRA)
Johnny Gray stages his NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series machine for a run to the top of the Arizona Nationals qualifying ladder after Friday's first round. (Photo courtesy of NHRA)

Johnny Gray followed his runner-up finish at Firebird International Raceway in 2011 with the quickest Funny Car lap of the day Friday. Gray powered his Service Central Dodge Charger to the top of the order with a 4.074 at 298.93. If it stands it would be his second career No. 1 qualifying position.

Courtesy: NHRA Media Relations

CHANDLER, Ariz. – Shawn Langdon raced to the provisional No. 1 qualifying position in Top Fuel Friday at the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Firebird International Raceway.

Johnny Gray (Funny Car) and Jason Line (Pro Stock) also were qualifying leaders at the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event.

Langdon powered his Al-Anabi Racing dragster to a track record 3.754-second pass at 323.12 mph. It was the fifth-quickest run in NHRA Top Fuel history and moved the driver into the top spot with two qualifying sessions remaining. If it stands, it would be Langdon’s second career No. 1 qualifying position.

“This is a great team to be a part of,” Langdon said. “It shows how great Brian (Husen, crew chief) and Alan (Johnson, team manager) are. I’m glad I had the chance to show off their efforts in the pits. I was very shocked by the run. I was thinking if we could go a 3.78 or a 3.79, that would put us in a good position for tomorrow. I don’t think there was a 3.74 left. I think they used up every bit of the run. Our goal now is to work on the consistency we need to put us in the winner’s circle.”

Recent winner Spencer Massey was third, while seven-time Top Fuel world champion and three time winner at Firebird International Raceway, Tony Schumacher was second. Langdon’s fellow Al-Anabi teammate, Khalid alBalooshi, sits 11th in the 16-car lineup.

Gray followed his runner-up finish at Firebird International Raceway in 2011 with the quickest Funny Car lap of the day Friday. Gray powered his Service Central Dodge Charger to the top of the order with a 4.074 at 298.93. If it stands it would be his second career No. 1 qualifying position.

“The Tire Kingdom/Service Central car is running really good,” Gray said. “It was running really good at the end of the year, and we’re hoping to carry that on. The thing came out and ran good. It dropped a hole on the first run and ran good on the second run. I actually had to shut the car off before the finish line because it was getting close to the wall, and I was fixing to get in trouble. If I can hold it in the middle, it out to be fast. There is more in the car, definitely.”

Gray’s fellow Don Schumacher Racing teammate and defending event winner Jack Beckman was seventh, while defending world champion Matt Hagan was 10th. Recent O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals winner John Force is currently fourth.

In Pro Stock, Line followed his No. 1 qualifying position at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona one week ago with the quickest run on Friday. Line drove his Summit Racing Pontiac GXP to the top of the pack with a pass of 6.553 at 211.00. If the performance stands it will be his second of the season and 26th of his career. It would also be his second No. 1 qualifier at Firebird International Raceway.

“It’s good that we qualified No. 1 (in both sessions) today, but it won’t stand,” Line said. “Tomorrow’s conditions will be better, and some of the other cars haven’t made their best runs yet. But it’s still fun to come up here for the No. 1 qualifier interview. I like visiting the press towers of all the different tracks.”

Line’s teammate and O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals winner Greg Anderson sits fourth, while former Pro Stock world champion Mike Edwards is second. Qualifying will continue Saturday with sessions scheduled for 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.




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Keeping Pace

Motorsports correspondent Doug Pace keeps up with motorsports news and notes from around the region.






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