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Keeping Pace

Sun., Feb. 19, 2012, 7 a.m.

Langdon, Gray, Edwards secure No. 1 Qualifying Positions at NHRA Arizona Nationals

Shawn Langdon jets to the No. 1 qualifying position for the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Arizona Winternationals. (Photo courtesy of NHRA)
Shawn Langdon jets to the No. 1 qualifying position for the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Arizona Winternationals. (Photo courtesy of NHRA)

After setting the track record Friday night, Shawn Langdon kept his Al-Anabi Racing dragster in the top spot in Top Fuel through Saturday qualifying. Langdon’s Friday night performance of 3.754 at 323.12 was quick enough to secure his second career No. 1 qualifying position.

Courtesy: NHRA Media Relations

CHANDLER, Ariz. – Johnny Gray held on to the No. 1 qualifying position in Funny Car Saturday at the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Firebird International Raceway.

Shawn Langdon (Top Fuel) and Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) also were No. 1 qualifiers in their categories at the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event.

Gray powered his Service Central Dodge Charger to a 4.074-second pass, the quickest lap of the weekend, at 298.93 mph Friday night and kept the top spot through Saturday's two rounds of qualifying to secure his second career No. 1 qualifying position.

“Rob (Wendland, crew chief) backed the thing down and got it ready for tomorrow,” Gray said. “He said we ought to run about a 4.12, and that’s what we ran, so we’re real confident going into tomorrow that we’ve got the Service Central/Big O car ready to compete. The car really ran good at the end of last year, and we runner-upped here last year. We just missed it by a hair in the final, so hopefully we can end up back there and learn from the mistake we made here last year and go ahead and win this thing.” 

Gray will face Grant Downing in the first round of Sunday's 11 a.m. eliminations. O'Reilly Winternationals winner and points leader John Force qualified fifth in the field, while defending event winner Jack Beckman qualified sixth. Rookie driver Courtney Force raced to the 12th qualifying spot, while Tequila Patron Toyota Camry driver Alexis DeJoria’s pass of 4.296 was not quick enough to secure her a spot in Sunday’s eliminations.

After setting the track record Friday night, Langdon kept his Al-Anabi Racing dragster in the top spot in Top Fuel through Saturday qualifying. Langdon’s Friday night performance of 3.754 at 323.12 was quick enough to secure his second career No. 1 qualifying position.

“It feels great to qualify No. 1 in just the second race of the year,” Langdon said. “I’m still trying to process all this stuff and catch up with these (Al-Anabi team) guys. They are so good. Giving me such a good race car helps my confidence as a driver. Race day will be different than qualifying. There’s a lot more pressure. But it’s nothing that this team can’t handle. As a driver I will try to do the best job I can. I hope to move forward and get my first win.”

Langdon will meet Troy Buff in the first round of eliminations Sunday. Three-time FIR winner Tony Schumacher earned the second spot in the field, while Schumacher’s teammate, Antron Brown, locked in the fifth spot in the category.

In Pro Stock, Edwards took the top spot away from Friday qualifying leader Jason Line when he drove his Penhall/Interstate Batteries Pontiac GXP to a 6.536 at 210.80. The pass not only set the track record for time, but also secured Edwards his 40th career No. 1 qualifier, fourth consecutive at FIR and fifth overall at the track.

“There’s something about the desert,” Edwards said. “Our car seems to run really good here. I can’t put my finger on why this happens, but we even ran good in the heat here last year. Anytime that you can qualify No. 1, it’s really good for us. But we’ll have to work hard to stay up there, because Jason (Line) and Greg (Anderson) really came on strong in the final qualifying session.”

Edwards will face NHRA legend Warren Johnson in the first round. Line qualified second for the event and recent race winner Anderson qualified fifth. 




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Keeping Pace

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