Langdon Nabs First Funny Car Win, Torrence Makes it Three Straight, Hines Earns 50th
In search of his first-ever NHRA Funny Car Wally, Shawn Langdon lined up against three drivers with a combined 20 championships on their resumes and prevailed, earning his first-ever victory in Funny Car competition at the 10th NGK Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals.
In Top Fuel, Steve Torrence continued his dominance at the Bellagio of drag strips, taking home his third consecutive win at the drag strip and his fourth in the last five trips to Charlotte. Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) and Mike Janis (Pro Mod) also prevailed.
Langdon outpaced a star-studded field that featured 16-time champion John Force as well as Robert Hight and Matt Hagan, each of whom hold two world titles. His pass of 4.125 seconds at 305.08 mph was just enough to edge out points leader Robert Hight by 0.034 seconds.
The win came just weeks after learning that his father had beaten cancer.
"There are so many factors," an emotional Langdon said of what went into his first Funny Car triumph. "First, my dad. He's going through cancer. I told him, 'I'm going to get you a Wally.' Dad, I got you one, buddy.
"The only reason I am here today is the people I am surrounded with. I have been working on my reaction times and (team owner) Connie (Kalitta) sat down and told me he is keeping his eye on me to do well. Working with a guy like that and working with a teammate like JR (Todd) really has been a key factor to success here.
"Working with these guys has really elevated my game with the talent that is racing here. To get this win is very gratifying and it shows how hungry these guys are to win."
Torrence bested a final-round field that included Clay Millican, Terry McMillen and Leah Pritchett to become the sixth Top Fuel driver to win in the first six races this season. He finished the day with a pass of 3.778 seconds at 323.19 mph.
"We're not here to play games; We're here to work," an excited Torrence said in Victory Lane. "We're going to celebrate tonight.
"For some reason I have been driving on the defense and not the offense, which is really where I should be… For this weekend, I did the same thing I did in Vegas, which was to think with my foot and not with my brain."
Hines earned his victory in a final quad that featured teammate Eddie Krawiec, Hector Arana Jr. and Ryan Oehler, but it was his second-round run that has fans and riders alike talking.
An electrical miscue led to a rare red-light for the Vance and Hines rider, but the pass was re-run after officials determined that there was a malfunction with the Christmas tree to start the run. On the do-over, Hines turned in the fastest pass of round to advance.
"I am watching the lane light flicker in Lane 3 and I didn't know what the heck was going on," Hines said. "Next thing I know, the red light comes on. Interesting deal waiting around wondering what was going to happen, but we made up for it."
In the finals, Hines posted a 6.831-second pass at 198.17 mph to claim his record-setting seventh win at zMAX Dragway and the 50th of his career.
"I have driven so many different kinds of motorcycles - probably seven or eight different chassis -- but the one thing that hasn't changed is my crew," Hines said of the milestone win. "My crew has been the same the entire time. Being able to celebrate with them was great."
New York-native Janis drove his 1969 Chevrolet Camaro to a winning pass of 5.799 seconds at 248.52 mph over Rickie Smith, Steve Jackson and Erica Enders.
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