(Updated with video) Top Fuel driver Shawn Langdon makes quickest run in NHRA history: 3.700 seconds


Top Fuel drag racer Shawn Langdon made NHRA history in the first of what was supposed to be two scheduled final qualifying rounds Saturday in the season-opening Circle K Winternationals in Pomona, Calif.

In his first run of the day shortly after Noon (PST) at Auto Club Raceway, Langdon recorded the quickest run down a 1,000-foot dragstrip that the sport has ever seen at 3.700 seconds, and at a blistering speed of 328.30 mph.

As Jim Peltz of the Los Angeles Times wrote, “Put another way, Langdon’s 10,000-horsepower dragster traveled an average 270 feet per second.”

However, Langdon’s mark is not an official NHRA record – at least not just yet.

The sanctioning body approves records provided either a prior or subsequent run during the same weekend event is within one percent of the original time or speed that is being considered for a national record.

Needless to say, Langdon is the No.1 qualifier in Top Fuel going into Sunday’s final eliminations.

“It was just a picture perfect run,” Langdon said in a NHRA media release. “It left, had the front end up, it was accelerating hard and it just pulled all the way until I shut it off.

“I went through the finish line and I thought I got a glimpse of the 3.70 on the scoreboard but wasn’t really sure. On a 100 degree day on the track, I really wasn’t even thinking about a 3.70. It wasn’t really until I turned the corner and saw everyone hooting and hollering that I was like ‘Ah, I guess I did see that.’”

Langdon was hoping to go quick enough to set the record in Saturday’s scheduled second qualifying run later in the afternoon, but the round was cancelled due to rain.

He can still set the record during Sunday’s final eliminations, again, provided that he comes within one percent of the elapsed time – which would be approximately 3.737 seconds or less.

The current elapsed time record in Top Fuel is 3.701 seconds, set by Antron Brown in 2012 at Reading, Pa.

Shawn Langdon recorded the quickest elapsed time in NHRA history, covering the 1,000-foot dragstrip in the season-opening Winternationals in 3.700 seconds. He can make the mark an official record in Sunday’s final eliminations. (Photo courtesy NHRA)

If Langdon can both set the record and win the event Sunday, it would be a storybook finish for himself and team owner Alan Johnson.

A month ago, Al-Anabi Racing, which had been primary sponsor for Alan Johnson Racing’s two Top Fuel dragsters over the last six seasons – including three national season championships – announced it was immediately withdrawing all funding from the team for the 2015 season.

MORE: NHRA shocker: Qatar Racing Club suspends sponsorship, Al-Anabi plans TBD

Johnson was forced to condense his team to only one dragster, driven by Langdon. The team is committed to race in just this weekend’s event and two weeks from now in Phoenix, unless it can gain additional sponsorship.

A record by Langdon would certainly go a long way towards perhaps attaining that much-needed funding, indeed.

MORE: NHRA: Alan Johnson Racing moves forward without Al-Anabi

Richie Crampton qualified No. 2 (3.730 seconds, 328.46), while Doug Kalitta, who earned the provisional No. 1 spot during Friday’s qualifying, will start Sunday’s eliminations from the No. 3 spot (3.733 seconds, 327.59 mph).

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Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans

LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.