Loose ends have been gathered in Langdon's Lucas Oil pit
PHOENIX (Oct. 10) – It's been a rough five-race stretch for Shawn Langdon and the Lucas Oil/Speedco Top Fuel dragster crew, but the team has taken advantage of the weekend off before the upcoming 27th annual Arizona NHRA Nationals to closely go over the car and improve the car's qualifying results.
The Lucas Oil rail has qualified in the bottom half of the field in seven straight races and faced and lost to a Murder's Row of first-round opponents the last four races – Antron Brown, Larry Dixon, Spencer Massey and Del Worsham.
"We’ve been a few steps behind those top-tier guys who are running for the championship," Langdon said. "If you aren’t able to qualify in the top half of the field, you are going run into those top guys in the first round."
Langdon said being prepared from the moment you unload the hauler is often the difference between a weekend of success or struggle.
"So much rides on the first Friday qualifying session," Langdon said. "If you put up a good number in that first session, you can be more aggressive the rest of the weekend.
"That means you really have to be ready to race before you leave the shop. Everything has be right or you will have the kind of problems we've experienced lately."
Crew chief John Stewart said the team has poured over data and discovered little issues here and there that have blossomed into a bigger problems.
"We've found some stuff with the clutch discs and the floaters," Stewart said. "There were several things wrong really. You'd think one little here and one little thing there doesn't matter, but you add them all together it's a big problem.
"With the extra time we've had, we've been able to go through the car and made the fixes."
Langdon is looking forward to racing a Firebird International Raceway because, like many Western tracks, he has a lot of personal history at Phoenix.
"My very first Super Comp race was in Phoenix at a Divisional race," said Langdon, who grew up in southern California. "Also it's the first place where I went eight seconds in a Junior Dragster.
"Any time I go to one of these West Coast races, it brings back a lot of good memories."
The NHRA Arizona Nationals get under way at 1:30 p.m. PDT Friday at Firebird International Raceway with two qualifying sessions. Qualifying continues at 11:15 a.m. on Saturday with two more qualifiers. Eliminations begin Sunday at 11 a.m. ESPN2 will broadcast the qualifying show on Saturday at 9:30 p.m. EDT and the elimination show at 7 p.m. EDT on Sunday.