NHRA Charlotte Features Breakthrough TF Winner

Shawn Langdon raced to his first career Top Fuel victory last weekend during the rain-delayed O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries at North Carolina’s zMAX Dragway…..

Ron Capps (Funny Car), Jason Line (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also earned victories in their respective classes after the first of six playoff races in the NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship.

Langdon defeated Tony Schumacher Sunday with a performance of 3.785 seconds at 326.71 mph in his Al-Anabi Racing dragster, holding off the hard-charging Schumacher, who finished in 3.808 at 322.27 in his U.S. Army dragster. Langdon won from the top qualifying position and beat Chris Karamesines, Bob Vandergriff and Brandon Bernstein to advance to the final round.

Shawn Langdon scored what is considered by most a much overdue 1st victory in NHRA Top Fuel racing.

“I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason,” Langdon said. “87 races into it, I’ve always kind of wondered, ‘Man, what does it feel like? Why haven’t I won? Is there something I’m doing wrong?’ I had a car capable of winning at times driving for the Lucas family for three years, and I came to this team that Sheikh Khalid [Al Thani, team owner] and Alan Johnson [team manager] that was built around winning. It gets to the point where it’s the Countdown and it’s crunch time. You couldn’t have scripted it any better. It’s a surreal feeling.”

Schumacher took over the points lead with the runner-up finish after playoff top seed Antron Brown was eliminated in the first round when his Aaron’s/Matco Tools Top Fuel dragster encountered a mechanical issue midway down the track, sending Al-Anabi driver Khalid alBalooshi into the second round. Langdon moved to third in points with the victory and Brown dropped to fourth overall.

In Funny Car, Capps raced his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger to his fourth victory of the season, defeating Mike Neff’s Castrol GTX Ford Mustang in the final. Capps sped to a winning run of 4.067 at 315.49 and increased his points lead as he heads into the second round of the six-race Countdown.

Ron Capps charged to his 4th win of the season in Fuel FC to pad his overall championship points margin.

“We were pretty pumped up,” said Capps, who beat Jim Head, Cruz Pedregon, and Matt Hagan in early rounds. “It just happens so fast, but what a race car. The car gives me confidence, but I learned a long time ago not to get overconfident. I was still a nervous wreck before the first round. I don’t take anything for granted. Mike Neff is a guy who can throw down at any time. He ran the table and won the race in Indy, and, lo and behold, we were able to gut it out without lane choice in the second round in the semis.”

In Pro Stock, Line claimed his second win of the season in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro with a final round performance of 7.518 at 200.20, outrunning series points leader Allen Johnson in the final round.  Johnson’s Team Mopar Dodge Avenger made quick move toward the center line off the starting line and he shut it off. Line defeated Frank Gugliotta, Larry Morgan and Warren Johnson in the first three rounds.

Jason Line won for the 2nd time this season driving the Summit Racing Equipment 2012 Chevy Camaro.

“Winning this race is a big way for us to start the Countdown but it doesn’t mean a whole lot unless you can keep going,” Line said. “To get any kind of lead at all is a good thing. Right now, the top six cars are all so good that whoever lets the clutch out first is usually going to win. That’s a lot to ask from anybody.”

Shane Gray Crashes

So much can change in an instant, and Pro Stock driver Shane Gray quickly became aware of that fact in the second round of eliminations at the 5th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals at zMax Dragway in Charlotte.
No. 14 qualifier Gray, a third-year competitor in what is arguably the most competitive professional category, easily got past a troubled Greg Anderson in the first round and was off to a strong start against veteran Pro Stock driver Warren Johnson in round two before his Tire Kingdom Service Central Chevy Camaro got very loose in the left lane and made a harsh turn toward the guard wall. The car then slammed into it, turned over and slid on the roof before flipping over backwards, landing right side up, and sliding to a stop against the right guard wall.
Thankfully, Gray emerged from the wreck uninjured.  “It happened so quick,” said Gray. “The car barely drifted, and then all of a sudden it darted and rolled. The NHRA guys checked me out right away, and other than being a little sore, I’m okay.” 

Hines scored his fifth win of the season and 30th in his career in Pro Stock Motorcycle, beating teammate Eddie Krawiec to the finish line with a time of 6.862 seconds at 194.49 mph on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson. 

“We just tried to stay calm,” said Hines, who had a bye run and then beat Shawn Gann and Hector Arana Sr. to advance to his 51st career final round. “We just had to keep our focus all day long and we were on a mission when we came here, to defend our regular season win streak of 10 in a row and we needed to come out here and see if we could do that. Luckily, everything all in the end panned out for us and it’s just a great feeling to start off the Countdown this way.”   

Krawiec continues to lead the Countdown to the Championship points by 10 over Hines. 

Leah Pruett Repeats in ProCare RX Pro Mod 

Leah Pruett raced to her first victory of the season in the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by ProCare Rx portion of the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries.

Leah Pruett (near lane) earned her 3rd career win driving the ProCare RX turbocharged “Mustang Sally” car.

Pruett also claimed her second victory in three final round appearances at zMAX Dragway, as well as her third career victory by outrunning Mike Knowles in the final round. With the victory she moves to fourth in the points standings.

“It feels phenomenal,” Pruett said. “To think that the three times I’ve been here in this car, I’ve reached the finals all three times and won twice. At the beginning of this race, I had a good feeling about getting to the final round and back in the winner’s circle.”

Pruett, who qualified ninth in her ProCare Rx Ford Mustang, raced to early round wins over team owner Roger Burgess, top qualifier Don Walsh and Kevin McCurdy. In the final she powered her Mustang to a winning performance of 5.936 seconds at 246.44, while Knowles shut off his ’68 Camaro near mid-track.

“That final round was one of the edgiest passes I’ve had in this car in a long time,” Pruett said. “If it would have been anything but a final round, there would have been a little bit of lifting going on. It was pretty gnarly. All I knew was that I didn’t see him, which means I was in front of him — all that meant I had to keep going. That would have been the worst feeling in the world to see someone go flying by you.”

Mike Castellana advanced to the semifinals and maintained his series points lead over second place Rickie Smith, who lost in the first round.

The penultimate race in the 10-event NHRA Pro Mod Series presented by ProCare Rx will be held Sept. 28-30 with the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at theGatewayMotorsportsParknearSt. Louis.

Posted with files from —  NHRA Communications & Kelly Wade

Incredibly — Frank Manzo scored for the 99th time in NHRA national event competition winning the TAFC title.

Event Essentials:  NHRA O’Reilly Auto Parts Nationals (Sep. 14-16th, 2012) Concord, NC.

TOP FUEL Name ET MPH Career Win
Winner: Shawn Langdon 3.785 326.71 1st
R/UP: Tony Schumacher 3.808 322.27  
Low ET: Tony Schumacher 3.749    
Top Speed: Doug Kalitta   326.95  
Bump Spot:   3.981    
FUNNY CAR       Career Win
Winner: Ron Capps 4.067 315.49 37th
R/UP: Mike Neff 10.40  79.25  
Low ET: Cruz Pedregon 4.035    
Top Speed: Ron Capps   317.05  
Bump Spot:        
PRO STOCK       Career Win
Winner: Jason Line 7.518 200.20 29th
R/UP: Allen Johnson 11.80   78.71  
Low ET: Vincent Nobile 6.548    
Top Speed: Mike Edwards   212.23  
Bump Spot:   6.676    
PRO STOCK BIKE       Career Win
Winner: Andrew Hines 6.862 194.49 30th
R/UP: Eddie Krawiec 6.858 195.14  
Low ET: Eddie Krawiec 6.831    
Top Speed: Eddie Krawiec   195.85  
Bump Spot:   N/A   *15 Bikes
ProCare RX Pro Mod        
Winner: Leah Pruett 5.936 246.44 3rd
R/UP: Mike Knowles 9.088 102.78  
Low ET: Don Walsh 5.868    
Top Speed: Don Walsh   254.81  
Bump Spot:   6.434    
LUCAS OIL        
Sportsman Winners:        
TA Dragster Richard Bourke 5.373 266.32  
TA Funny Car Frank Manzo 5.575 260.01  
Super Stock Larry Miller 9.951 128.90  
Stock Dan Fletcher 11.02 115.15  
Super Comp Scott LaMar 8.903 176.37  
Super Gas Ray Sawyer 9.912 166.31  


Sportsman Summary:  Bourke is First Time Winner

Richard Bourke took home his first NHRA national event win in Top Alcohol Dragster while Frank Manzo grabbed his 99th leaving  him one shy of the century mark at this weekend’s O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals at zMAX Dragway.

New Jersey’s Richard Bourke won for the first time in NHRA national event TAD competition.

Bourke, Old Tappan, N.J., captured the Top Alcohol Dragster title to go along with his national event wins in Comp Eliminator and in Super Gas as he outran Ken Perry, Markham, Ont.  Bourke went 5.373 seconds at 266.32 mph for the win with Perry crossing the finish line in 5.436 seconds at 253.99 mph.

Manzo,Morganville,N.J., qualified No. 1 and ran 5.50’s all day to take the win in Top Alcohol Funny Car over John Anderika,Wyoming,Pa.  Manzo went 260 mph in 5.575 seconds in the final with Anderika coming in at 5.829, 250.92 mph.

Super Comp and Super Gas both saw great final rounds with Scot Lamar taking the Super Comp title and Ray Sawyer the trophy in Super Gas.  LaMar combined a .004 second reaction time with an 8.903 second pass to win on a holeshot over the quicker Sherman Adcock at 8.902.  The win was LaMar’s first national event victory.  Sawyer also cut a .004 light which proved to be the deciding factor (eight inches) as he and Steven Furr ran identical 9.912 second laps.

Dan Fletcher pocketed his 79th NHRA win beating Larry Hill in Stock while Larry Miller won his first with a near perfect .004 second package in Super Stock over Bryan Worner.  Fletcher,Churchville,N.Y., won on a double breakout with Hill as Miller,Gettysburg,Pa., was .003 of the line and clocked in at 9.951 on his 9.95 dial-in for his win over Worner.

The Super Stock winner was Larry Miller driving this ’70 Barracuda

Posted by:  Eric Lotz

All Photos by:  Dave DeAngelis

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