Reigning Top Fuel world champion driver Shawn Langdon raced to a track-record performance Saturday to claim his third No. 1 qualifier of the season and will try for his second victory of the season on Sunday at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park.
Del Worsham (Funny Car), Erica Enders-Stevens (Pro Stock), and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also will lead their categories as the No. 1 qualifiers at the 13th of 24 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series events in 2014. Sunday’s eliminations start at 11 a.m.
Langdon flexed his muscle with his quick pass of 3.745 seconds at 325.22 mph on Saturday in his 10,000-horsepower Al-Anabi Racing dragster, resetting his own previous track record for elapsed time. He will face Terry McMillen in Sunday’s opening round.
The California native, who earned the 16th No. 1 of his career, is seeking his first win at Norwalk. Langdon will meet Terry McMillen in the first round of eliminations.
“Tonight, we felt like we could lay down and try to make the best run possible,” Langdon said. “I have a lot of confidence. The last couple races we’ve struggled in qualifying. We feel like we have that little bit of a handle back on the race car again.”
Points leader Doug Kalitta moved to second with his pass of 3.746 at 327.82 in his Mac Tools dragster. He will face rookie Richie Crampton in the opening round. Antron Brown held on to the third spot in the class, powering his Matco Tools dragster with a performance of 3.763 at 323.04 and will race Clay Millican in the opening round.
In Funny Car, Worsham claimed the No. 1 spot with his Friday track record time of 4.000 at 321.88 in his DHL Toyota Camry. This is his first No. 1 qualifying position at Norwalk and 16th of his career. He will face fellow Californian Jeff Diehl in the first round of eliminations.
“The DHL Toyota Camry made a beautiful run down the track,” Worsham said. “When you can outrun guys like John Force and Tommy Johnson, that says something.”
Sixteen-time world champion Force and his Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang, which posted a 4.016 pass at 322.04 on Friday, qualified second. Sitting in the third slot is Tommy Johnson Jr., who powered his Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger to a 4.030 at 319.67.
“You can’t take anyone lightly,” Worsham said. “I think if I take a first-round win tomorrow, that’ll be great. ”
In Pro Stock, nobody could match Enders-Stevens’ track-record performance of 6.523 at 212.63 from Friday, giving the current points leader her second No. 1 qualifying spot in the season and eighth of her career. The driver of the Elite Motorsports Chevy Camaro has yet to win at Norwalk.
“We’ve got a really consistent hot rod right now,” Enders-Stevens said. “We went up there and tried some things that we hope will work tomorrow. Consistency is what’s going to get it done.”
She will face No. 16 qualifier Travis Mazza in the opening round of eliminations.
“It’s an honor to be where I’m at,” Enders-Stevens, the first female in the category to lead in the points standings, said. “I have a new outlook and enjoy where I’m at. I feel good and confident this weekend.”
Shane Gray’s performance of 6.527 at 211.69 gave him the second spot in his Gray Manufacturing Chevy Camaro. Allen Johnson qualified third in his Mopar/Magneti Marelli Dodge Dart with his run of 6.532 at 211.89. Ohio favorite Jeg Coughlin Jr., who qualified No. 6, will take on Rodger Brogdon in the first round.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Krawiec held on to the No. 1 qualifying spot from Friday, going 195.05 with a qualifying best of 6.844 on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson. Krawiec, who won at Norwalk in 2011, earned his fifth consecutive No. 1 qualifier in 2014 and will meet rookie Elvira Karlsson of Sweden in the opener.
“We’ll do our best tomorrow,” Krawiec said. “I’ve got a great motorcycle. You got to stay consistent. I believe I have a motorcycle that can get the job done as long as I’m doing my job.”
Hector Arana Jr. took the second spot on his Lucas Oil Buell, running a 6.859 at 195.05 in the final qualifying session. He will face Jim Underdahl in the opening round. Jerry Savoie’s 6.865 at 195.48 on his Savoie’s Alligator Farm Buell sits in third, and defending event winner Matt Smith is in the eighth spot and will meet Adam Arana in an opening-round matchup.
Danny Rowe raced to a first-round victory from the No. 1 qualifying position Saturday during the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series competition presented by Mid-Atlanta Energy. Rowe outran Kenny Lang in the first round of competition with a performance of 5.907 seconds at 246.62 mph in his ’68 Camaro. Rowe earned the No. 1 qualifying position with a performance 5.875 at 248.57.
In the first round, Von Smith outran No. 9 qualifier Bob Rahaim, Steve Matusek took out Bill Glidden, Kevin Fiscus defeated Clint Satterfield, Peter Farber outran 2011 Norwalk winner Mike Castellana, and Rickie Smith defeated Steven Whiteley.
Pro Mod eliminations continue Sunday at approximately 12:45 p.m. with the following second-round pairings: Rowe vs. V. Smith, Farber vs. Matusek, and Coughlin vs. Janis.
Friday: Kalitta, Worsham, Enders-Stevens, Krawiec provide Norwalk fireworks