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NHRA Charlotte: Langdon earns first Funny Car victory; Torrence, Hines also win

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Since Shawn Langdon switched from Top Fuel to Funny Car for the first time in his career at the start of the 2018 season, it would not be surprising if some of his fans began to set their watches to him.

After all, when you switch to another class from one in which you earned 14 career wins and the 2013 Top Fuel championship, it likely was just a matter of time before Langdon would achieve success in a Funny Car.

And indeed it finally was Langdon’s time Sunday in the NGK Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway in suburban Charlotte, North Carolina, defeating legendary John Force, Robert Hight and Matt Hagan.

The Kalitta Motorsports driver finally broke through with his first career Funny Car triumph, and one he hopes to have many more to come. He also becomes the 17th driver in NHRA history to win a national event in both Top Fuel and now Funny Car.

Ironically, zMAX Dragway was also the site of Langdon’s first career Top Fuel win, back in 2012, and the site of his first final round appearance in NHRA competition (2009).

When asked if he woke up Sunday morning thinking he would finally break through with his first Funny Car win, Langdon was philosophical.

I thought that for 24 races last year and the first five this year,” he said. “It didn’t go as planned for the first 29. It just shows how tough the sport is. There are so many things that we went through – changes within the team, learning curves for me, crew chiefs, etc.

We’ve had a good Global Camry, we just need to have some things fall our way. It seems like we’ve had a lot of buzz-saw races where we get the quickest guy of the first round and we’d run the third- or fourth-quick time of the round.

I’ve been so fortunate to have the opportunity to race for a legend like Connie Kalitta. I was telling a story the other day that I was up in Richie (Crampton’s lounge) and I was on the simulator up there working on my reaction times. Connie took time out of his day and sat down next to me and I looked at him and I asked him if he was doing alright and he said, ‘Yep, I’m just keeping on eye on you, though, making sure you’re getting the treatment.’

He sat there and watched me, then he gave me a couple of little pointers. Working with a guy like that and having a guy like J.R. Todd as a teammate and he’s a champion. So I bounce ideas off him all of the time. Working with (crew chief) Nicky Boninfante, who’s been out here for years and working with some of the greatest drivers in the sport. Then to bring Del Worsham (co-crew chief) in has been a key factor.

After I did a bit of a drifting job in the second round, Del told me you can’t do that in the final. We looked at the race packet between sessions and he told me I needed to turn down the steering a little bit because it’s a hot track and if you do it again like that it’s going to smoke the tires. Just working with these guys has really elevated my game in terms of driving.

The guys we had to go through today in the second round and the finals were the best in the class. To get this win is very gratifying. I went .069 in the final and left fourth. It just shows how good these guys are and how hungry they are to win. There’s so many things going on in my life, that I just sat in the car while staging and closed my eyes and said just give me this one time right here, I need to use it. I don’t say that too often, but this time it worked.”

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IN TOP FUEL: Defending Top Fuel champion Steve Torrence has been knocking on the door of the winner’s circle for the first five races of the season – and finally kicked that door down Sunday in the sixth national event of 2019.

Torrence’s final round run of 3.778 seconds at 323.19 mph took the top prize over Leah Pritchett, Clay Millican and Terry McMillen.

Richard Hogan (crew chief) and Bobby Lagana (assistant crew chief) and every one of those Capco boys, they just instill confidence in you,” Torrence said. “I hadn’t been driving with the most confidence.

Maybe I was driving on the defense instead of on the offense. I changed my mindset and just went out there and did what I know how to do instead of thinking about it. In Vegas at the Four-Wide I got up there and let my mind get in front of my foot. We’ve had a lot of success here at zMAX. I really like this place.”

With his win, Torrence overtook Doug Kalitta for the points lead in Top Fuel.

Also, the win came on the 61st birthday of Steve Torrence’s father and Top Fuel teammate, Billy Torrence.

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IN PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: Andrew Hines became the first two-wheeled rider in NHRA history to earn his 50th career win.

Hines took the top spot with a run of 6.831 seconds at 198.17 mph on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Street Rod.

He defeated teammate Eddie Krawiec, Hector Arana Jr. and Ryan Oehler.

The day went pretty good,” Hines said. “It got hotter and hotter which made it tougher and tougher.

Our crew is pretty good at persevering in different weather conditions and we had to do that all weekend long. Not one of those days was similar to the other.”

Notes: The Pro Stock class did not compete in the 4-Wide Nationals. … The series now heads to Atlanta Dragway for next weekend’s Arby’s NHRA Southern Nationals, May 3-5, at Commerce, Georgia, the seventh race of the 24-race 2019 season.

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FINAL FINISHING ORDER:

TOP FUEL: 1. Steve Torrence; 2. Clay Millican; 3. Terry McMillen; 4. Leah Pritchett; 5. Scott Palmer; 6. Doug Kalitta; 7. Mike Salinas; 8. Dom Lagana; 9. Spencer Massey; 10. Antron Brown; 11. Austin Prock; 12. Richie Crampton; 13. Audrey Worm; 14. Brittany Force; 15. Lex Joon; 16. Cameron Ferre.

FUNNY CAR: 1. Shawn Langdon; 2. Robert Hight; 3. John Force; 4. Matt Hagan; 5. Tim Wilkerson; 6. Tommy Johnson Jr.; 7. J.R. Todd; 8. Jack Beckman; 9. Jeff Diehl; 10. Cruz Pedregon; 11. Bob Tasca III; 12. Dave Richards; 13. Jonnie Lindberg; 14. Ron Capps; 15. Terry Haddock; 16. Bob Gilbertson.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1. Andrew Hines; 2. Eddie Krawiec; 3. Hector Arana Jr; 4. Ryan Oehler; 5. Cory Reed; 6. Hector Arana; 7. Karen Stoffer; 8. Angie Smith; 9. Jerry Savoie; 10. Jerry Savoie; 11. Matt Smith; 12. Matt Smith; 13. Joey Gladstone; 14. Joey Gladstone; 15. Jim Underdahl; 16. Jim Underdahl.

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FINAL RESULTS:

TOP FUEL: Steve Torrence, 3.778 seconds, 323.19 mph def. Clay Millican, 4.035 seconds, 310.48 mph and Terry McMillen, 4.349 seconds, 219.08 mph and Leah Pritchett, 4.435 seconds, 246.30 mph.

FUNNY CAR: Shawn Langdon, Toyota Camry, 4.125, 305.08 def. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 4.159, 242.89 and John Force, Camaro, 4.517, 200.59 and Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 5.252, 172.89.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.831, 198.17 def. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.858, 197.68 and Hector Arana Jr, EBR, 6.908, 198.82 and Ryan Oehler, Buell, 6.959, 196.27.

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FINAL ROUND-BY-ROUND RESULTS:

TOP FUEL: ROUND ONE — Leah Pritchett, 3.775, 327.03 and Doug Kalitta, 3.779, 320.13 def. Richie Crampton, 4.851, 153.72 and Lex Joon, 6.231, 111.37; Steve Torrence, 3.743, 321.42 and Terry McMillen, 3.815, 322.96 def. Spencer Massey, 3.861, 317.57 and Audrey Worm, 4.589, 181.50; Scott Palmer, 3.782, 325.61 and Dom Lagana, 3.796, 320.51 def. Antron Brown, 4.161, 276.92 and Brittany Force, 5.495, 102.18; Clay Millican, 3.815, 321.27 and Mike Salinas, 3.768, 324.90 def. Austin Prock, 4.224, 250.13 and Cameron Ferre, broke; SEMIFINALS — Millican, 3.877, 295.59 and Pritchett, 3.947, 271.30 def. Kalitta, 4.736, 163.65 and Salinas, 5.423, 149.81; Torrence, 3.777, 324.05 and McMillen, 3.828, 316.75 def. Palmer, 4.279, 217.53 and Lagana, 9.246, 81.51; FINAL — Torrence, 3.778, 323.19 def. Millican, 4.035, 310.48, McMillen, 4.349, 219.08 and Pritchett, 4.435, 246.30.

FUNNY CAR: ROUND ONE — John Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.920, 326.56 and Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 3.953, 325.14 def. Cruz Pedregon, Charger, 4.671, 184.02 and Jonnie Lindberg, Ford Mustang, 4.786, 181.25; J.R. Todd, Toyota Camry, 3.966, 320.81 and Robert Hight, Camaro, 4.617, 267.22 def. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.687, 192.03 and Bob Gilbertson, Chevy Monte Carlo, broke; Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.925, 324.83 and Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 3.954, 317.27 def. Dave Richards, Mustang, 5.044, 175.32 and Ron Capps, Charger, 5.172, 152.95; Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.978, 321.35 and Shawn Langdon, Camry, 3.982, 321.19 def. Jeff Diehl, Camry, 4.492, 236.09 and Terry Haddock, Mustang, 11.602, 69.75; SEMIFINALS — Hight, 3.977, 322.58 and Langdon, 4.311, 248.93 def. Johnson Jr., 4.363, 213.60 and Todd, 5.051, 252.14; Force, 4.046, 320.81 and Hagan, 3.997, 316.30 def. Wilkerson, 4.062, 290.07 and Beckman, 7.194, 99.31; FINAL — Langdon, 4.125, 305.08 def. Hight, 4.159, 242.89, Force, 4.517, 200.59 and Hagan, 5.252, 172.89.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: ROUND ONE — Eddie Krawiec, Harley Street Rod, 6.886, 196.85 and Ryan Oehler, Buell, 6.889, 196.56 def. Joey Gladstone, EBR, 6.925, 194.83 and Steve Johnson, Suzuki TL, 6.933, 192.33; Andrew Hines, Street Rod, 6.849, 197.39 and Hector Arana, EBR, 6.876, 196.82 def. Jerry Savoie, TL, 6.877, 195.59 and Kelly Clontz, TL, 18.533, 34.79; Karen Stoffer, TL, 6.811, 197.57 and Cory Reed, EBR, 6.888, 195.65 def. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki GS, 6.937, 195.03 and Angelle Sampey, Street Rod, 7.133, 151.58; Hector Arana Jr, EBR, 6.817, 198.12 and Angie Smith, EBR, 6.923, 197.16 def. Matt Smith, EBR, 6.908, 196.24 and Scotty Pollacheck, EBR, 6.966, 193.49; SEMIFINALS — Krawiec, 6.859, 197.91 and Oehler, 6.890, 196.90 def. Reed, 6.914, 195.03 and Stoffer, 6.956, 177.60; Hines, 6.825, 198.06 and Arana Jr, 6.928, 196.27 def. Arana, 6.979, 196.42 and A. Smith, 7.019, 192.14; FINAL — Hines, 6.831, 198.17 def. Krawiec, 6.858, 197.68, Arana Jr, 6.908, 198.82 and Oehler, 6.959, 196.27.

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UPDATED POINT STANDINGS:

TOP FUEL: 1. Steve Torrence, 460; 2. Doug Kalitta, 426; 3. Clay Millican, 394; 4. Mike Salinas, 384; 5. Brittany Force, 382; 6. Leah Pritchett, 378; 7. Antron Brown, 317; 8. Terry McMillen, 309; 9. Richie Crampton, 296; 10. Billy Torrence, 265.

FUNNY CAR: 1. Robert Hight, 582; 2. Matt Hagan, 440; 3. John Force, 417; 4. (tie) Jack Beckman, 394; J.R. Todd, 394; 6. Tommy Johnson Jr., 371; 7. Tim Wilkerson, 339; 8. Shawn Langdon, 338; 9. Ron Capps, 318; 10. Bob Tasca III, 282.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1. Andrew Hines, 319; 2. Eddie Krawiec, 281; 3. Hector Arana Jr, 278; 4. Matt Smith, 204; 5. Ryan Oehler, 158; 6. Karen Stoffer, 152; 7. Jerry Savoie, 139; 8. Joey Gladstone, 138; 9. (tie) Hector Arana, 137; Angie Smith, 137.

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Eli Tomac, Ken Roczen finish 1-2 at High Point, tie for points lead

Rich Shepherd, ProMotocross
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Time was running off the clock and Eli Tomac was going to give up the overall win to Ken Roczen, until the Colorado native dug deep and made the pass for second in Moto 2 at High Point Raceway at Mount Morris, Penn. Roczen would win his third Moto of the season, but Tomac won the war.

With a third-place finish in Moto 1 and his second in Moto 2, Tomac grabbed the overall victory for the second time this season in Round 4 of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross championship.

For Tomac, it was another difficult start to the race. He tipped his bike over in Moto 1 and fell back to fifth while battling two seconds behind the leader Blake Baggett. Tomac had to battle his way back toward the front again after barely cracking the top five in the first Motos in two of the first three rounds.

Roczen fared even worse in Moto 1. He finished sixth in that race – more than 34 seconds behind the leader Baggett. Determined to make up for his bad start, Roczen charged through the field in Moto 2 and took the lead from Cooper Webb on Lap 9.

“I was just going to charge,” Roczen told NBC Sports after his Moto win. “Do the best I can. I went back to my Colorado (last week) settings because the first race was awful; I couldn’t even ride.”

Tomac entered the round two points behind Roczen and was able to make up only those two points. The battle continues onto Florida next week with a tie for the top spot.

With a 2-5, Jason Anderson grabbed third overall.

Battling back from injury, Anderson faded in the closing laps of Moto 2, but is regaining strength each week.

Webb (third) and Zach Osborne (fourth) rounded out the top five in Moto 2 and finished fourth and fifth respectively overall.

Moto 1 featured a rider searching for his first Moto win in two years. Baggett earned the holeshot and held off an early advantage by Tomac. When Tomac fell, it handed second to Anderson, who finished nearly 10 seconds behind the leader.

“Every time I get out front here, I have that weird sensation of trying to keep it on two wheels,” Baggett said on NBC Sports Gold following his win.

Tomac was not the only rider to go down in Moto 1. Webb lost his pegs on Lap 9 and became the cape to his KTM motorcycle as he flew along holding tight to the handlebars. He recovered in that race to finish seventh.

450 Moto 1 Results
450 Moto 2 Results
450 Overall Results
Points Standings

Adam Cianciarulo remains perfect in the 250 class. Winning Moto 2 in each round so far this season, Cianciarulo has capitalized on his late event surges to sweep Victory Lane in the first four weeks.

It wasn’t an easy run for Cianciarulo, nonetheless. He was only fifth at the end of Lap 1 in Moto 1 and was forced to slice through the field to get to second at the checkers of that race.

“Just coming to the races now – coming to outdoor nationals now – compared to the past, it’s just an entirely different vibe,” Cianciarulo said on NBCSN after the race. “It’s like I’m experiencing it for the first time because for the first time in my whole pro career I believe in myself.

“It’s a process when you hit rock bottom and start coming back.”

Hunter Lawrence stole the show in Moto 1. Earning his first career win handily, he came out in Moto 2 and proved it was not a fluke by finishing third in the race and taking second overall.

“It’s awesome,” Lawrence said on NBC Sports Gold following his Moto 1 victory. “It’s just a Moto win, but it’s a big milestone in our trip and campaign.”

Chase Sexton earned the holeshot in Moto 1, but faded to fourth at the end. Sexton kept Cianciarulo in sight in the back half of Moto 2 to finish second in the race and third overall.

With a 3-4, Dylan Ferrandis finished fourth overall with Colt Nichols (5-5) finishing fifth.

After losing the overall at Thunder Valley amidst controversy, Justin Cooper wanted to make a statement. He barely raised his voice with a sixth in Moto 1 and a ninth in Moto 2 to finish ninth overall.  He lost another 20 points to the points leader as Cianciarulo starts to edge away from the pack. Cooper remains second in the points, but is now 26 back.

Garrett Marchbanks went down hard on Lap 4 of Moto 1 and had the bike land on his head. He did not start Moto 2, but there have been no report of injury yet.

250 Moto 1 Results
250 Moto 2 Results
250 Overall Results
Points Standings

Moto Wins

450MX
[4] Eli Tomac (Hangtown II, Pala I & Pala II, Thunder Valley II)
[3] Ken Roczen (Hangtown I, Thunder Valley I, High Point II)
[1] Blake Baggett (High Point I)

250MX
[4] Adam Cianciarulo (Hangtown II, Pala II, Thunder Valley I, High Point II)
[3] Justin Cooper (Hangtown I, Pala I, Thunder Valley I)
[1] Hunter Lawrence (High Point I)

Next race: WW Ranch Motocross Park, Jacksonville, Fla. June 22

Season passes can be purchased at NBC Sports Gold.

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