CHARLOTTE, N.C. — If Top Fuel standout Shawn Langdon could pick a place to continue to his red-hot momentum after recently winning the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals and the Traxxas Nitro Shootout, zMAX Dragway would likely be one of his top choices.
Langdon’s first career Top Fuel win came there during the Countdown to the Championship playoff opener a year ago and when the Carlyle Tools NHRA Carolina Nationals presented by NAPA Auto Parts gets underway Sept 13-15, the No. 1 seed will have plenty of good vibes about what has transpired since that important victory.
Langdon and his 8,000-horsepower Al-Anabi Racing dragster have been dominant in 2013, winning five times and building serious championship aspirations. He’ll go to zMAX Dragway with a dragster and team firing on all cylinders, hoping to re-create more Charlotte magic and get his championship title pursuit started on the right foot.
“We have a lot of momentum right now, a lot of good things are happening,” Langdon said. “Going into the first race of the Countdown, you're on a high note. That is exactly how you want to start it out. Hopefully, we can put together a repeat performance from last year of winning at Charlotte, start off on the right foot and hopefully carry this momentum all the way through.”
Langdon couldn’t enter the Countdown on a better note after a double-win weekend at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. But that celebration has ended and Langdon and his team are now only focused on finishing strong.
They had it figured out a year ago when the Mira Loma, Calif. native started the Countdown with his first career victory. Langdon also claimed No. 1 qualifying spots at three Countdown races, providing a glimpse that a championship was within reach. He then followed with a giant leap forward in 2013, winning the first race of the year in Pomona. Four more victories have littered a tremendously successful season and Langdon said the right mindset from everyone on the team has been crucial.
“There are just a lot of different things that can happen in the cars that can really help or hurt you,” Langdon said. “I think the biggest thing is just learning from your mistakes and being kind of true to yourself. You know, if you make a mistake, you accept it, and you learn from it, and you try to make yourself a better person on and off the track. So I think it's just a lot of those things throughout the years of just trying to be an honest racer trying to make myself better to prepare myself for situations like this.
“Racing for the Al-Anabi team, they put you in a position to win. You know they're going to have a great car. Now it's up to me to perform and basically handle the pressure properly as a driver and not crack under the pressure.”
Pressure will certainly be apparent in Charlotte where everyone will be chasing Langdon to start out the Countdown on a strong note. Among that group is defending world champion Antron Brown, seven-time world champion Tony Schumacher and other standouts like Doug Kalitta, Spencer Massey, Clay Millican, Morgan Lucas, Khalid alBalooshi, Steve Torrence and Bob Vandergriff.
All will be after a playoff victory to aid their championship hopes, but Langdon has handled the pressures of being the points leader remarkably well. A laid-back approach has helped, but Langdon’s impressive determination has also been apparent.
“This is my job, but I'm also living my dream,” Langdon said. “I just want to be the best. I want to do whatever to make myself the best. You just know that being part of the team, they're there to win championships. They're going to do whatever it takes to give you a race car that's going to win championships, so it's up to you to perform. I want nothing more than to be able to perform as a driver.
“We've got a good thing going, and we're just focused on winning the championship. That's what you were brought to the team to do. Our single goal is to win the championship.”
In Funny Car, 2011 world champion Matt Hagan is the No. 1 seed in and will attempt to earn his second victory at zMAX Dragway. Ron Capps, Jack Beckman, Cruz Pedregon, Tim Wilkerson, John and Courtney Force as well as Robert Hight will attempt to win the season long championship.
Mike Edwards is leading the Pro Stock charge in his I Am Second Chevy Camaro, while defending world champ Allen Johnson, Jeg Coughlin and Vincent Nobile are in hot pursuit in their Dodge Avengers. Local favorites Greg Anderson and Jason Line will be looking to get back on the winning track at zMAX Dragway. In the 190 mph Pro Stock Motorcycle category, Hector Arana Jr. enters the race as the top seed with four season victories, followed closely by Indy runner-up Matt Smith and two-time season winner Michael Ray. John Hall, Eddie Krawiec, Hector Arana Sr. and Scotty Pollacheck are also among the pre-race favorites in the two-wheel class.
The Carlyle Tools NHRA Carolina Nationals presented by NAPA Auto Parts is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. In addition to all of the drama and excitement going on in the Countdown playoffs, fans will also enjoy a brilliant night qualifying show on Friday, some powerful exhibition runs by two jet dragsters and an incredible fireworks display to close out Friday’s racing.
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. No other sport offer fans an up close and personal experience like NHRA.
Fans also will want to visit NHRA's popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family.
Be a part of the action all weekend with a 3-Day Pass to the Carlyle Tools NHRA Carolina Nationals presented by NAPA Auto Parts. Purchase a 3-day package for just $99. Bring the kids along for an even better ticket offer: Children 13 and younger will receive free general admission with a paid adult all weekend.