Events / Motorsports

NHRA Wrap-Up: Langdon, Johnson Jr., Enders-Stevens Win in Bristol

Reigning NHRA Mello Yello Top Fuel world champion Shawn Langdon won his first race of the season Sunday at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals.

Tommy Johnson Jr.  in Funny Car and Erica Enders-Stevens in Pro Stock also were winners in their respective categories at the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event at Bristol Dragway.

Langdon raced to his first Bristol Dragway victory and ninth win of his career by posting a final round performance of 3.819 seconds at 320.51 miles-per-hour to defeat series points leader Doug Kalitta. With the win, Langdon moves to third in the points standings.

“With the stiff competition in Top Fuel, one thing you have to learn is patience and not to take anything for granted,” Langdon said. “We knew it was going to be tough. We’re still learning. Fortunately, we got this win and most importantly, we hope to continue earning those Mello Yello points.”

Langdon, who qualified #7 for the event, defeated teammate Khalid alBalooshi, Terry McMillen and Bob Vandergriff Jr. en route to his third final round appearance of the season.

“I was a little worried about pedaling in the final going up against the Kalitta group,” Langdon said. “They are definitely the hottest car in the circuit. That’s why it is great to be a part of the Alan Johnson and Al-Anabi Racing. You feel like you have a pretty good race car too.”

In Funny Car, Johnson Jr. earned his first victory since 2007. The Indianapolis driver took his 10th career win and first at Bristol with a performance of 4.156 at 302.14 in his Dodge Charger, defeating Tim Wilkerson’s Ford Mustang in the final.

“I’m thrilled that we were able to get it done and all that work paid off,” Johnson Jr. said. “The guys did a great job today. We’ve qualified great we just couldn’t get it to go our way on race day. We’ve been competitive and we just couldn’t close the deal. It’s tough out here. I wanted to prove that we’re not in a slump and we needed to step it up a little bit and we did.”

Johnson Jr., the event’s #5 qualifier, defeated Cruz Pedregon, points leader Robert Hight, and local favorite Matt Hagan en route to the final round.

“We didn’t get to run Friday night because of the weather and Saturday we had a problem in the car and didn’t get to run the last session,” Johnson Jr. said. “We just kept with our lane choice and able to stay in right lane all day. It worked perfect and the car was running great.”

Enders-Stevens continues to shine in Pro Stock.

The series points leader secured her third win of the season and ninth of her career with a performance of 6.698 at 207.15 in her Chevy Camaro, defeating rookie Jonathan Gray in the final round. It was the first win at Bristol for Enders-Stevens, who increased her series lead with the win.

“We had to dig deeper this weekend,” she said. “Everybody out here is hungry. As a driver, I knew I had to step up to the plate and get up on the wheel. Momentum is huge in this sport and we just need to continue to carry it. To get it done today meant the world to me and my team gave me a car to drive to the winner’s circle.”

The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series continues in Epping, N.H. with the second annual NHRA New England Nationals at New England Dragway, June 19-22.

Sunday’s race was the 10th of 24 slated for the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.

Pro Stock Championship Point Standings

1. Erica Enders-Stevens   908
2. Jeg Coughlin           753
3. Allen Johnson          704
4. Jason Line             698
5. Shane Gray             651

Funny Car Championship Point Standings

1. Robert Hight           905
2. John Force             640
3. Tommy Johnson Jr.      627
4. Alexis DeJoria         619
5. Del Worsham            593

Top Fuel Championship Point Standings

1. Doug Kalitta           902
2. Antron Brown           782
3. Shawn Langdon          751
4. Spencer Massey         652
5. Steve Torrence         617

The NHRA and Drag Race Central contributed to this report.

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