NHRA: Doing What He Has To; Langdon Tops Gatornationals Qualifying Along With Pedregon, McGaha and Smith

RaceChaser Staff Drag Racing, Featured, NHRA, Southeast 0 Comments

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – official series release — NHRA photo —

Shawn Langdon claimed his second straight No. 1 qualifier at the AMALIE Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals on Saturday afternoon.

Cruz Pedregon (Funny Car), Chris McGaha (Pro Stock) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also will lead their categories into Sunday’s 11 a.m. eliminations as No. 1 qualifiers at the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event at historic Auto-Plus Raceway at Gainesville.

Langdon, the 2013 Top Fuel world champion, earned the top spot a run at 3.765 at 325.45 in his Knuckle Sandwich/AJPE dragster.  Langdon has had a successful start to 2015, winning the season-opening event in Pomona from the No. 1 starting spot and reaching the semifinals at Phoenix.

It is Langdon’s second straight top qualifier at Gainesville and 18th of his career. He will open eliminations against Morgan Lucas.

“We wanted to come out and make a strong run in that early session,” said Langdon, who is seeking his first career Gatornationals win. “We knew it was going to heat up for the later session today. We really felt that was the run to go after. Luckily it held and it was basically what we were trying to run.”

Spencer Massey sits second following a 3.793 at a track record speed of 329.02 in the Red Fuel dragster. Massey, a three-time winner last season, faces Chris Karamesines.

Defending event winner Doug Kalitta was third in his Mac Tools dragster with a 3.796 at 323.58 and goes up against teammate J.R. Todd in round one. Defending world champ Tony Schumacher enters race day in fourth while Leah Pritchett starts fifth.

During Saturday’s first session, Larry Dixon walked away from a harrowing crash after his C&J Energy Services dragster went out of control near the finish line. Dixon, a three-time world champ, was uninjured in the accident but will not race in eliminations on Sunday.

For the fourth year in a row and the sixth time overall Pedregon earned the No. 1 seed in Funny Car at the AMALIE Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals. Pedregon powered to a track record 4.022-second run at 312.13 mph in his Snap-on Tools Toyota Camry to earn his 58th career No. 1 qualifying position. The 1998 Gainesville winner is seeking his first victory since Englishtown last season and faces Dave Richards in the first round.

“Conditions were very similar to when we ran Friday,” said Pedregon, a two-time world champ. “We were trying to be steady today and not really try to improve the time. We figured if it was there, it was there.”

Del Worsham qualified second in the DHL Toyota Camry with a 4.057 at 312.57 and faces Blake Alexander in round one. Worsham won this event in 2011 in Top Fuel, but is looking for his first in Funny Car.

John Force enters race day as the No. 3 qualifier with a 4.068 at 315.19 in his PEAK Antifreeze Chevy Camaro SS and faces John Hale. Tim Wilkerson qualified fourth while 2012 world champ Jack Beckman rounds out the top five qualifiers.

In Pro Stock, McGaha held on to his Friday run of 6.507 at 213.73 to claim the top spot in his Harlow Sammons Chevy Camaro. It is McGaha’s first career No. 1 qualifier at Gainesville and third of his career. McGaha is seeking his first career victory in eliminations tomorrow.

“The Number one position is good,” McGaha said. “Those little points do get addicting after awhile. You can make up a round here or there. I’ve still got to win a race, I can’t lose focus here. It’s one round at a time.”

Jason Line raced his Summit Racing Chevy Camaro to the No. 2 qualifying position with a 6.522 at 212.69. Line, a two-time world champ, has four wins at this event and opens eliminations against John Alan Prusiensky as he seeks a fifth.

Points leader and Phoenix winner Rodger Brogdon qualified third in his RoofTec Chevy Camaro with a 6.526 at 212.93 and will face V Gaines. Shane Gray qualified in the fourth position while Greg Anderson finished qualifying in fifth.

Smith, a two-time world champ, earned the top spot in Pro Stock Motorcycle on his final qualifying attempt with an effort of 6.793 at 197.74 on his Victory Gunner, which he debuted for the first time this weekend. The run gives Smith his third No. 1 qualifying spot at Gainesville and 23rd of his career. He races wife Angie Smith in the first round. They last faced off in the final of Epping, N.H. last season when Angie beat him to claim her first career victory.

“I can’t say enough about Victory and debuting the Gunner bike,” said Smith. “For Polaris, it’s an awesome deal for them to step in with NHRA drag racing and to come out and show what we’ve done right off the bat.”

Three-time world champ Angelle Sampey entered Saturday’s final sessions as the No. 1 seed but will settle for second with a 6.872 at 194.74. Sampey, who is returning from an ankle injury sustained at Las Vegas in October last season, will race her Star Racing Buell against former teammate Chaz Kennedy in the first round.

Eddie Krawiec qualified third on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson with a 6.873 at 195.48, setting up a race with Mike Berry. Defending world champ Andrew Hines sits fourth after qualifying and Jim Underdahl is fifth.

Don Walsh claimed the No. 1 qualifying position and a first round victory Saturday during the J&A Service NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series portion of the AMALIE Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals.

Walsh powered his late model Precision Turbo Camaro to a top qualifying run of 5.832 seconds at 248.02 mph, marking the seventh time in his career that he’s claimed the No. 1 spot.

“It was great,” said Walsh. “I’m just really happy we have some new sponsors on board and that I’m able to run well for them this weekend. I’m super excited for us to put it all together here at the first race and put together what we had from last year and move it into this year.”

Walsh followed his qualifying success with a first round win. He will race Bob Rahaim in the quarterfinals on Sunday.

Pro Mod rookie Troy Coughlin Jr., qualified second in his JEGS.com Corvette with a 5.876 at 251.46. He then faced Kenny Lang and raced to victory after Lang red lighted. This is Coughlin’s first Pro Mod appearance in his career. He will face Bill Glidden in the quarterfinals.

After not qualifying through the first two rounds, reigning category champion Rickie Smith was able to salvage a No. 7 qualifying position with a 5.909 at 246.30, but lost to Glidden in the first round of eliminations.

The 2011 world champ, Khalid alBalooshi, did not qualify in the inaugural event of the 2015 season. alBalooshi is making a return to the doorslammer category after racing the last three seasons in Top Fuel.

CREDIT: National Hot Rod Association

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