NHRA: Leah Pritchett replaces Larry Dixon, Shawn Langdon stays at DSR

(Photo courtesy NHRA)
14 Comments

Even though it’s the off-season, things have been very busy on the NHRA circuit of late.

Let’s catch you up with some of the most recent news:

* Despite finishing fourth in the final standings, three-time Top Fuel champion Larry Dixon is looking for a new ride for 2016.

According to a report by RacingJunk.com’s Jay Wells, Dixon has been replaced at Bob Vandergriff Racing for 2016 by female driver Leah Pritchett, who will become teammates with Dave Connolly for the two-dragster operation.

Connolly finished 10th in his rookie Top Fuel season in 2015.

Pritchett, who will be sponsored by Quaker State for at least five races, made the big announcement last Thursday at the PRI motorsports industry trade show in Indianapolis.

“The opportunity to run a complete NHRA Top Fuel season has been a goal that I have worked towards for a very long time,” Pritchett said, according to RacingJunk.com. “I am beyond excited for the opportunity to focus on making the countdown next season, competing for a championship, working alongside Bob Vandergriff Jr., and re-introduce the Quaker State brand back into the NHRA.

“This dream is now a reality, thanks in large part to the vision of Bob Vandergriff Jr., as well as the support of great companies and people along my way to this personal and professional milestone, and of course my fans.”

Pritchett drove part-time in 2015 for Dote Racing.

The NHRA season-opening Winternationals is Feb. 11-14 at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California.

* Top Fuel driver and former champion Shawn Langdon will start 2016 with a lot more stability than he had starting the 2015 season.

Langdon, who caught on late last season with Don Schumacher Racing, replacing Spencer Massey, has been signed to a permanent full-time ride with DSR for 2016.

Langdon drove the last three seasons for Alan Johnson Racing, including racing under the sponsorship of Al-Anabi Racing in 2013, when he won the Top Fuel championship, as well as 2014.

But Al-Anabi unexpectedly pulled the financial plug less than a month before the 2015 season, leaving AJR to race on a race-by-race basis.

Finally, after the first 18 races of the season and heading into the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoff, AJR could not continue and Langdon was temporarily parked.

But not for long as DSR reached out to him to replace Massey, who was released from the team prior to the U.S. Nationals for unspecified reasons.

Langdon, 33, will join 2015 and two-time Top Fuel champ Antron Brown and eight-time and 2014 champ Tony Schumacher as teammates.

“After Pomona last month, Alan and I sat down and discussed 2016 and beyond,” Langdon said, according to RacingJunk.com. “Alan and I decided it was in both of our interests to go separate ways.

“That was tough. I had a great three years with Alan Johnson Racing and being part of the Johnson family. I’ll have special memories for the rest of my life.”

Langdon, who won the 2015 season-ending race at Pomona for DSR, will have veteran Todd Okuhara and Phil Shuler as his new co-crew chiefs at DSR.

“I’m very excited about this new chapter in my life,” Langdon said. “It was perfect to end the season the way we did at Pomona in the Finals. Hopefully, that’s a sign of what’s to come in 2016.”

DSR also announced that it has extended a partnership with Mopar dating back to 2003 on the Funny Car side. That means Jack Beckman, Matt Hagan, Ron Capps and Tommy Johnson Jr. will continue to drive Dodge Charger RTs in 2016.

“We had our most successful season competing in Funny Cars in 2015, and much of the credit goes to Mopar and all of its engineers and technicians who developed the new 2015 Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car body that we used,” Schumacher said, according to RacingJunk.com. “The aerodynamics and new Charger body combined with the power of the Mopar HEMI engine to produce the sport’s quickest times and fastest speeds, and we couldn’t be prouder to be partners with them.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski

2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Houston: Eli Tomac retakes 450 lead, Hunter Lawrence tops 250s

0 Comments

After his Anaheim 2 crash, Eli Tomac was surprised he was not injured, but despite getting knocked down momentarily, he picked himself up, rode to last week’s win and reascended to the top of the SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Houston. This is the third time in three weeks Tomac has topped the rankings.

SuperMotocross Power Rankings Houston
Jason Anderson has back-to-back podiums to his credit and sits second in the Power Rankings. – Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media

Last week, Tomac finished second in his heat before winning the Main – and that translated to near-perfect points in the Power Rankings, which award 100 for a win in the feature and 90 for a heat victory. Tomac’s average was marred by the Houston accident when he finished 13th in that heat before settling just outside the top five in overall standings. Racing is about bouncing back and last year’s Supercross and Motocross champion Tomac did just that as he chases a third consecutive title.

Jason Anderson earned his second consecutive podium finish with a third at Houston. He momentarily rolled past Aaron Plessinger into second during a restart following an accident involving Dylan Ferrandis and held that position for four trips around the track until he was tracked down by Chase Sexton. Afterward Anderson faded and finished 12 seconds off the pace, but along with a heat win, he easily leapfrogged Ken Roczen and Cooper Webb, who struggled in the fourth race of the season.

MORE: Eli Tomac rebounds from Anaheim 2 crash with Houston win

Webb held his position by passing Roczen in NBC’s SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Houston. Webb has been solid in 2023 with a worst moto result of seventh in the first Triple Crown race at Anaheim 2, but in order to be considered a solid challenger to Tomac he needs to win either a heat or main this week in Tampa.

Roczen was involved in the incident that sidelined Ferrandis in Houston. Racing for eighth at the time, his bike may have sustained some damage when Ferrandis landed on his back tire, but he was not overly impressive in his heat either with a fifth-place finish. That was enough to drop him three positions in the standings, but he still has Tomac in sight.

After his disappointing heat in San Diego when he crashed and sustained enough damage to place him last, Sexton has roared back. He won the overall in Anaheim 2’s Triple Crown format and narrowed the points’ gap slightly on Tomac. Last week he yarded the field in his heat race and won by a wide margin. A modest start in the Main kept him from getting to Tomac’s back wheel early in the Houston round, and he lost a little ground in the championship.

450 Rankings

This
Week
Rider Power
Avg.
Last
Week
Diff.
1 Eli Tomac
[3 Main; 3 Heats Wins]
85.20 2 1
2 Jason Anderson
[2 Heat Wins]
82.60 4 2
3 Cooper Webb 82.10 3 0
4 Ken Roczen 81.70 1 -3
5 Chase Sexton
[1 Main; 3 Heat Wins]
80.70 6 1
6 Dylan Ferrandis 71.60 5 -1
7 Aaron Plessinger 71.30 8 1
8 Justin Barcia 70.10 7 -1
9 Justin Cooper 68.00 NA
10 Adam Cianciarulo 67.40 9 -1
11 Joey Savatgy 61.20 10 -1
12 Marvin Musquin 61.00 10 -2
13 Malcolm Stewart
[1 Heat Win]
58.75 11 -2
14 Christian Craig 57.20 13 -1
15 Colt Nichols 56.50 14 -1
16 Dean Wilson 49.30 15 -1
17 Justin Hill 39.67 18 1
18 Shane McElrath 36.33 22 4
19 Brandon Scharer 34.00 21 2
20 Logan Karnow 33.33 19 -1

Supercross 450 Points


The 250 East division debuted in Houston and with only one race – and therefore no chance yet to stumble – three of their riders jumped to the top of the chart.

Hunter Lawrence had a perfect week with wins in both his main and heat. It wasn’t without drama, however, as he was forced to jump wide early in the feature to avoid contact with Tom Vialle, who was making his Supercross debut. Without a former 250 champion in the field, it is guaranteed someone new will grace the top of the box at Salt Lake City after the season-ender and it looks like it’s going to be Lawrence’s to lose.

SuperMotocross Power Rankings Houston
Jordon Smith’s last podium before Houston came four years ago in Detroit. – Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media

It was more than four years ago that Jordon Smith scored his last Supercross podium in Detroit. Despite finishing second that afternoon, he was battling a wrist injury that eventually sidelined him. More injuries have followed, but Smith was a favorite to win the title in 2019 and he’s shown how well he can ride when he’s healthy.

Debuting third in the Houston SuperMotocross Power Rankings, Max Anstie moved from the 450 class last year to 250s in 2023 and the change has gone better than he anticipated. Finishing second in both his heat and main, Anstie was edged by Smith because he finished second behind that rider in their heat. That is Anstie’s first top-10 since finishing sixth at Southwick, Massachusetts last year on his 450. In that race, he scored fifth-place results in both motos.

Supercross 250 Points

Haiden Deegan proved the hype surrounding his graduation into the 250 class was well deserved and he landed fourth in his division and fifth overall in the SuperMotocross Power Rankings. In his first professional Supercross race, he finished fourth in his heat. In a field with twice the talent, he finished fourth again in the main. At Houston, he balanced aggression with patience. Now that he has a taste of that success, everyone will be watching him closely at Tampa to see if he can continue tiptoeing on the line.

Michael Mosiman, Jeremy Martin, and Vialle are tied for fifth in the 250 East division and seventh overall.

Vialle is the most notable of these three because he challenged for a podium position during the Main before making a mistake and falling in a turn. Significantly, this was not only his 250 debut, but his first time in Supercross. As with Deegan, he has generated a lot of attention for the coming weeks.

250 Rankings

This
Week
Rider Power
Avg.
Last
Week
Diff.
1 Hunter Lawrence – E
[1 Main; 1 Heat Win]
95.00 NA
2 Jordon Smith – E
[1 Heat Win]
90.50 NA
2 Max Anstie – E 90.50 NA
4 Jett Lawrence – W
[2 Main; 2 Heat Wins]
89.13 1 -3
5 Haiden Deegan – E 81.50 NA
6 Cameron McAdoo – W
[1 Heat Win]
77.63 2 -4
7 Mitchell Oldenburg – W 77.00 3 -4
7 Michael Mosiman – E 77.00 NA
7 Jeremy Martin – E 77.00 NA
7 Tom Vialle – E 77.00 NA
11 Stilez Robertson – W
[1 Heat Win]
76.75 4 -7
12 Chance Hymas – E 74.50 -12
13 Levi Kitchen – W
[1 Main Win]
73.75 5 -8
14 RJ Hampshire – W
[3 Heat Wins]
70.00 6 -8
15 Max Vohland – W 69.29 7 -8
16 Cullin Park – E 66.00 NA
17 Chris Blose – E 65.50 NA
18 Derek Kelley – W 63.75 8 -10
19 Enzo Lopes – W 63.25 9 -10
20 Pierce Brown – W 61.29 10 -10

* The NBC Power Rankings assign 100 points to a Main event winner and 90 points for each Heat and Triple Crown win, (Triple Crown wins are included with heat wins below the rider’s name). The points decrement by a percentage equal to the number of riders in the field until the last place rider in each event receives five points. The Power Ranking is the average of these percentage points over the past 45 days.

POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 3 AT ANAHEIM 2: Consistency makes Ken Roczen king
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 2 AT SAN DIEGO: Roczen moves up, Chase Sexton falls
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 1 AT ANAHEIM 1: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence gain an early advantage