BROWNSBURG, Ind. – Shawn Langdon and Jack Beckman raced to thrilling $100,000 Traxxas Nitro Shootout victories in their respective categories Sunday at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals and both drivers will carry that momentum into Monday’s 11 a.m. eliminations as they are each chasing their first victories in the world’s most prestigious drag race.
Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Matt Hagan (Funny Car), Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana (Pro Stock Motorcycle) will lead their categories as No. 1 qualifiers at the world’s most prestigious drag race, the 18th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
Top Fuel Points leader Langdon won the rain-delayed Traxxas Nitro Shootout in Top Fuel, knocking off Steve Torrence in the final round. Langdon beat Brown to reach the championship round, furthering the momentum for his Al-Anabi Racing team, which has claimed four victories this season.
“This was eight of the best cars battling it out for $100,000 and to win it here at Indy, it’s just a great feeling,” Langdon said. “The only way you could top this is to win (Monday) and then win a world championship. The team is working hard, having a good team and the car is running excellent, so it’s all good vibes right now.”
Defending world champion Beckman won the $100,000 Traxxas Nitro Shootout prize in Funny Car with an explosive final round victory against Cruz Pedregon. Beckman used a holeshot start in his Valvoline/MTS Dodge Charger and powered to a performance of 4.086 at 310.77 before a spectacular engine explosion launched the body off Beckman’s car at the finish line. Beckman, who defeated Ron Capps and Courtney Force to reach the final round of the eight-car field, was uninjured and he talked about the magnitude of the Traxxas Nitro Shootout victory.
“We’re the only car with the chance of doubling up at Indy and you have to like that,” Beckman said. “It’s a fairly surreal experience and the fact that we haven’t won anything this year makes it that much bigger. This just feels fantastic and truly is amazing. It’s one of those events that years from now you will always remember.”
The final qualifying fields were set for the Big Go, and defending NHRA Top Fuel world champion Brown went from the last qualifying spot to the No. 1 position with a thrilling run on his final attempt.
Brown, who was the No. 16 qualifier just moments before his final qualifying run, powered his Matco Tools dragster to a leading performance of 3.811 seconds at 320.58 mph. Brown, the 2011 winner here, earned his second No. 1 qualifying position of the season and 34th of his career. He will match up against Morgan Lucas in the first round of eliminations.
“It was a struggle for everybody on our team and we really had nothing to lose going into that run,” Brown said. “We weren’t scared, we got after it and we stepped up to the plate. This class has some big-name players and you can’t be afraid to go after things. We had been tip-toeing it and you can’t do that. Racing Morgan in the first round is like a final round matchup and we have to be ready and prepared to get the job done.”
Nine-time Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals winner Tony Schumacher, who wasn’t qualified before his final run, jumped all the way to No. 1 with a 3.814 at 319.82 in his U.S. Army dragster on his final pass before his teammate unseated him. Schumacher will start from the No. 2 position and Torrence will start third in his Capco Contractors dragster after posting a 3.815 at 325.61.