Semifinal finish produces frustration for Langdon; Lucas has rare early exit TOPEKA, Kan. (May 31) -- Usually a team is pretty pleased with a semifinal finish at an NHRA national event, but Shawn Langdon's Lucas Oil/Dixie Choppers bunch were ...
Semifinal finish produces frustration for Langdon; Lucas has rare early exit
TOPEKA, Kan. (May 31) -- Usually a team is pretty pleased with a semifinal finish at an NHRA national event, but Shawn Langdon's Lucas Oil/Dixie Choppers bunch were expecting a little more Sunday at Heartland Park Topeka. Unfortunately, after a rare mistake by their rookie driver, they never got a chance to race for a final-round berth.
Adding to the group's overall disappointment was the first-round loss by team owner Morgan Lucas and his GEICO Powersports/Lucas Oil dragster team, leaving everyone on both sides of the pit anxious to leave the Sunflower State.
After displaying some expert driving in beating Terry Haddock on a holeshot and No. 1 qualifier Antron Brown by .003 of a second, Langdon experienced something in the semifinals that had never happened before in his brief nine-race tenure behind the wheel of a Top Fuel dragster. Ultimately, it cost him a chance to reach his first final.
"I rolled into the water box and hit the throttle and I guess it just dried up real quick because I felt the tires grab and pull the motor down," Langdon said. "I got the clutch in as fast as I could but it was so hot it had welded together and I couldn't get it into reverse. The whole thing just felt really different than any other run I've made.
"It's part of the rookie learning curve. I've only made about 50 runs so I'm still learning stuff. I feel bad. I guess the only good thing is that I feel so bad I know for sure that won't ever happen again. Next time I'll stick with the procedure and do a full burnout.
"Reaching the semifinals in four of the last five races is great and says a lot about this Lucas Oil/Dixie Choppers team but I'm having a hard time getting excited about anything right now. I'm just glad we race again next weekend so I can put this whole deal behind me."
As for Lucas, he had another strong start against Cory McClenathan in the opening session, rocketing off the starting line two hundredths of a second ahead of his veteran opponent. His GEICO Powersports/Lucas Oil dragster looked strong for most of the 1,000-foot course but faded just before the finish line, which allowed McClenathan to zip by for the win, 3.977 at 299.53 mph to Lucas' 4.090 at 251.06 mph.
"We're dissecting the engine to figure out what happened and whatever it is we'll get it fixed before Friday's first qualifying session in Chicago," said Lucas, a winner earlier this year in Atlanta. "This wasn't our best weekend but dealing with the highs and lows of this sport is part of the deal. It's important to keep an even temperament because it's a long season. We'll be fine and we'll be ready to go at Route 66 Raceway."
The 12th annual United Association Route 66 NHRA Nationals begin Friday in Joliet, Ill.