LAS VEGAS – Riding a hot hand in Las Vegas can lead to riches for those who are lucky enough to find the winning groove. Shawn Langdon and his Al-Anabi Racing silver dragster have been one of the hottest teams this year in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
They have raced to six wins, three runner-up finishes and claimed the top qualifying position at six events. When he returns to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the NHRA Toyota Nationals Oct. 24-27, Langdon will aim for continued success and building upon his 83-point series lead.
“We have been fortunate to go some rounds at a lot of races this year and get into the semifinals,” Langdon said. “Getting into 10 final rounds in 22 races is just consistently going rounds and getting into the late rounds. We’ve had some bad races, but we’ve been able to bounce back quickly after them so it hasn’t hurt us that much.”
Bob Vandergriff (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car), and defending world champions Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) raced to victories last season at the popular event.
When Langdon entered the Countdown to the Championship at Charlotte, he was riding a wave of success. He had just won his first Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals title, raced to a $100,000 payday in the Traxxas Nitro Shootout all-star event for Top Fuel and was the No. 1 seed in the playoffs. However, in the cutthroat world of NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing, he was narrowly defeated on a holeshot by Bob Vandergriff at the opening race of the Countdown to the Championship. The loss stung but hasn’t deterred him from the goal of continuing his quest for a Top Fuel championship.
“To lose the first race of the Countdown was devastating,” Langdon said. “But having talked to my crew, the crew chiefs and Alan [Johnson], they really lifted my spirits up quite a bit so I could get my confidence back. When you are a part of the team, the one thing you don’t want to be is the weak link.
“Having all of those guys come to me and tell me ‘Hey, we have your back, and we believe in you. You’re part of the team, and we win and lose as a team. We’ve been put in this position before during other years, and we’ve come back to win the championship, so you have nothing to worry about. We have your back.’ That was really all I needed to hear to get my confidence back.”