For the second season in a row, Shawn Langdon will enter eliminations at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals as the No. 1 qualifier in Top Fuel.
Ron Capps (Funny Car), Chris McGaha (Pro Stock), and Michael Ray (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also will lead their categories into eliminations as No. 1 qualifiers at the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event at "the Bellagio of dragstrips."
Langdon piloted his Al-Anabi Racing dragster to a 3.753 second pass at 321.81 mph during the first day of qualifying, and that run held up as hotter temperatures cooled down the runs in the two qualifying sessions on Saturday.
“We’ve had a really good car this year in qualifying,” said Langdon. “The Al-Anabi team has done an excellent job qualifying, getting towards the top, and we were able to get a couple of No. 1 qualifiers. Today, it was just very critical to make good runs in the lanes just because of having the four-wide, where you make one run in each lane.
Langdon is hoping to translate his No. 1 qualifying effort into a good run on Sunday. The Al-Anabi Racing driver has struggled on Sunday but is confident he can turn his effort this weekend into a good run in eliminations.
“It’s just a matter of getting the consistency back in the car, and that’s something we’ve been striving to do,” Langdon said. “Since we’ve been kind of assessing everything from the beginning of the year, our problem has been smoking the tires on Sunday, so getting the consistency back in the car is a big thing for us right now.”
The defending Mello Yello Series Top Fuel world champ secured his 15th career No. 1 qualifier and will open eliminations against Steve Torrence, Spencer Massey, and Terry McMillen in the first round of eliminations at zMAX Dragway.
J.R. Todd will start second in his second run at the wheel of the Optima Batteries dragster for Kalitta Motorsports. The Indianapolis native set a career-best e.t. at 3.781 and will face Doug Kalitta, Pat Dakin, and former car owner Bob Vandergriff Jr. in his opening quarter.
Khalid alBalooshi, 2012 Top Fuel world champ Antron Brown, and Brittany Force round out the top-five seeds.
In Funny Car, Capps’ 4.059 run at 314.24 on Friday was good enough to carry the Don Schumacher Racing driver to his first No. 1 qualifier of the season and 16th of his career. With warmer temperatures and the challenge of the four-lane configuration, Capps is confident that crew chief Rahn Tobler is the best choice to prepare for tomorrow.
"Today was quite a bit different," Capps said of the conditions. "We saw some heat that we knew was going to be here today, but it's also the conditions we are going to see tomorrow. It will be nice conditions for the fans but track-wise a little warm, and that's great to have a crew chief like Rahn. I've bragged about it before. I have loved and love working with crew chiefs that are old school. You know, they go back and look at the parts and analyze things and look at the big picture. Tobler's a good guy to have at a Four-Wide with all that's going on.
The San Luis Obispo, Calif., native is searching for his second career win in Charlotte but his first at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals. Capps, driver of the NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger, will face Del Worsham, Alexis DeJoria, and Chad Head in round one.
Gainesville winner Robert Hight piloted his Auto Club Ford Mustang to a 4.074 pass at 314.24 to secure the No. 2 seed. The 2012 NHRA Four-Wide Nationals winner will face defending event champ Matt Hagan, Jack Beckman, and Tony Pedregon to start their race day.
Tommy Johnson Jr., Bob Tasca III, and Tim Wilkerson will join Capps and Hight as top-five seeds for Sunday’s eliminations.
McGaha claimed the second No. 1 qualifying position of his career with his 6.523 pass at 213.10 mph on Friday. The Odessa, Texas, native purchased Mike Edwards’ equipment following the end of the 2013 season and is seeing the results he was expecting after the acquisition.
"I absolutely hoped that we'd be able to do this when we bought Mike's operation," said McGaha. "I know there were a lot of doubters who didn't think that we could have instant success, but I don't think we'd have done this deal if we didn't think we'd be where we are now."
McGaha will race his Harlow Sammons of Odessa Chevy Camaro against Jimmy Alund, V. Gaines, and Larry Morgan to open Pro Stock eliminations.
Erica Enders-Stevens has impressed early in Charlotte following her sweep of the K&N Horsepower Challenge and official Pro Stock event in Las Vegas two weeks ago. The driver of the Elite Motorsports Chevy Camaro will start as the No. 2 seed against Allen Johnson, Jonathan Gray, and John Gaydosh.
Dave Connolly, Shane Gray, and Jeg Coughlin Jr. will also start in the top five.
Ray has swept No. 1 qualifying in Pro Stock Motorcycle so far with his efforts in Gainesville and Charlotte. The Star Racing driver ran a 6.816 at 197.02 on a Buell to secure his first No. 1 qualifying effort in the four-lane configuration. Ray faces Mike Berry, Chaz Kennedy, and Katie Sullivan in the first round.
"We came out this morning with a tune-up that we'd use for eliminations, and I had the best 60-foot time of my career with a 1.045, and that's really hauling the mail," said Ray. “The way I look at it if I am on my game, there's not a bike out there that is going to beat me."
Hector Arana Jr., Andrew Hines, Scotty Pollacheck, and John Hall round out the top-five seeds.
Despite not securing top e.t. in qualifying, Brittany Force (Top Fuel), Courtney Force (Funny Car), and Enders-Stevens all secured top speeds in their respective categories. Brittany completed a pass at 325.61 and will start fifth; Courtney at 316.01, starting sixth; and Enders-Stevens at 213.13, starting seventh. The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series has produced 98 event wins by female racers, and the trio would love to be among the group of women to create that milestone this weekend.
Eliminations for the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals will begin at noon on Sunday.
Related story: Langdon, Capps, McGaha, Ray lead opening day in Charlotte
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