Despite losing its top sponsor and benefactor, Alan Johnson Racing plans on going forward in the 2015 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
The drag racing world was shocked when it was announced in early January that primary sponsor and team owner Al-Anabi Racing had ceased all funding for the two-car Top Fuel dragster team, effective immediately.
Johnson will apparently run the team – a one-car operation for now with 2013 Top Fuel champion Shawn Langdon behind the wheel – out of his own pocket, but is continuing to seek sponsorship, according to National Dragster magazine. Khalid alBalooshi, who drove the second Al-Anabi dragster, will not return for 2015 – at least not with AJR.
“We enjoyed our six years with Al-Anabi Racing, and we experienced great success,” Johnson said in a team media release. “We appreciate the opportunity to compete for Al-Anabi Racing and thank Sheikh Khalid [Al-Anabi Racing team owner, Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Thani] for everything he did for us. We had a great run, but now we must move on and focus on the future.”
Brian Husen and Jason McCulloch will serve as co-crew chiefs on Langdon’s dragster.
The team fully intends on taking part in the season-opening 55th annual Circle K NHRA Winternationals, Feb. 6-8, in Pomona, Calif. It is also entered in the following race in Phoenix, but it’s unclear how long AJR will be able to sustain without additional sponsorship.
“We are going to Pomona with every intention of winning the Winternationals,” Johnson said. “We are in discussions with multiple entities about sponsoring our race team, and part of that process is showing the level of excellence at which our team competes.
“We won the Winternationals last year, and our goal is to repeat as Winternationals champions next weekend.”
AJR won NHRA Top Fuel world championships in 1997, 1998 and 2000, as well as in 2010, 2011 and 2013 with the Al-Anabi partnership. The team won 42 races in the last six seasons with drivers Larry Dixon, Del Worsham, Langdon, and alBalooshi.
Follow me @JerryBonkowski