Rookie Langdon Stuns Field In Vegas
Rookie Shawn Langdon shocked the field and the crowd at The Strip in Las Vegas Saturday as he earned the top qualifying spot in the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals.
Langdon led the way in Top Fuel, Tony Pedregon jumped to the lead in Funny Car, and Mike Edwards is tops in Pro Stock.
Both ends of the Pro Stock track record were reset — Edwards taking the e.t. mark with his pole-winning 6.656 and Greg Anderson’s 206.70 setting the speed mark — and the top spot in all three categories changed hands multiple times by day’s end.
After a rough go of things in their first session today, the Top Fuel crew chiefs got a good handle on the track in the afternoon session, and what followed was a slew of three-second runs and a complete reshuffling of the field. Langdon led the three-second parade with a 3.874 that gave him the first No. 1 start just five races into his Top Fuel career.
Antron Brown, who ran with Langdon in the final session, powered to the second spot with a 3.878. Larry Dixon is third at 3.907, followed by first session leader Tony Schumacher, who ran a best of 3.908. Cory McClenathan, Spencer Massey, David Baca, and Morgan Lucas round out the top half of the field. Steve Chrisman finished on the bump with a 4.243.
With the grandstands shielding the track from the sun, the Funny Car contingent put on quite a show in their final qualifying session with the No. 1 spot changing hands several times. In the end, Tony Pedregon finished at the head of the class with a 4.100.
A trio of John Force Racing drivers is next on the sheets. Robert Hight is second at 4.115, followed by teammates Mike Neff (4.125) and Houston winner Ashley Force Hood (4.139). Bob Bode, who led the field through the earlier session today, dropped to fifth after being unable to improve on his 4.145 from Friday. Ron Capps, John Force, and Cruz Pedregon round out the top eight.
In his second Funny Car attempt, former Top Alcohol Funny Car racer Brian Thiel qualified for his first field, running a 4.182 best to nab the No. 11 spot. Del Worsham anchors the field with a 4.278.
When the day started, the track record at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway was 6.703, but with cooler track and air temperatures, it never stood a chance of staying there. There were seven runs in the 6.6s, including Edwards’ 6.656. It is Edwards’ third No. 1 start this season — he was also tops in Phoenix and Gainesville — and the ninth of his career.
Greg Anderson, Friday’s leader, will start race day from the No. 2 spot after recording a 6.668 best. Greg Stanfield is third (6.690), and Jason Line, who became the first driver to ever run in the 6.6s at The Strip, is No. 4 with his 6.697. Allen Johnson is the only other driver to run in the 6.6s and will start fifth. Steve Spiess anchors the 16-car field at 6.759 and will have a first-round date with Edwards.
The most intriguing first-round match is that of Jeg Coughlin and Kurt Johnson, who qualified eighth and ninth, respectively, after entering the day not qualified. Also of note, Line will face Dave Connolly, who is making his first Sunday start of 2009.
After winning in Houston last weekend, Ron Krisher’s fortunes turned in Las Vegas, where he came up short of making the field. Krisher made a valiant attempt in the final session, but a wiggle in low gear cost him dearly, and his 6.782 fell short of the then-6.764 bump.