Story By: NHRA – INDIANAPOLIS, IN – Shawn Langdon knows what it’s like to win on drag racing’s biggest stage, as the former NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series world champ has picked up two wins at the Dodge//SRT NHRA U.S. Nationals, which is annually the biggest race of the NHRA season.
The latest came last year and now Langdon will try to make it two in a row at the world’s biggest drag race, as the 67th annual Dodge//SRT NHRA U.S. Nationals takes place this weekend at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. Langdon has already carved out an impressive legacy at the Big Go, but the talented driver of the 11,000-horsepower DHL dragster is after more, especially as he seeks out his first victory of the season. With the Countdown to the Championship playoffs looming after the stop in Indy, Langdon, who is sixth in points, is eager to put things together at a key point in the season.
“It is always exciting to get back to Indy for the U.S. Nationals,” Langdon said. “I won in Super Gas and I have two Top Fuel wins. Getting the win last year was big with Connie Kalitta as my crew chief. I really wanted to get a win with him and the DHL team. It is the last race of the regular season and teams are trying to get into the Countdown or get ready for the playoffs so there is a lot of attention on this race.”
With action across several thrilling categories, special events like the Dodge HEMI Challenge and the JEGS Allstars bonus event for sportsman racers and exhibition classes, the prestigious Dodge//SRT NHRA U.S. Nationals promises to deliver something special. Langdon (Top Fuel), Jack Beckman (Funny Car), Erica Enders (Pro Stock) and Scotty Pollacheck (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the event that will be televised on Fox Sports 1 (FS1) and FOX, including final eliminations on Sunday, Sept. 5. It is the 13th of 20 events during the 2021 season and the final race of the regular season.
It’s a thrilling time of year for Langdon, who has hopes of making a major push in the playoffs. To do that, and win for the third time in Top Fuel at Indy, Langdon will have to defeat the likes of Steve Torrence, the current points leader and three-time defending world champ, Antron Brown, Brittany Force, veteran and Kalitta Motorsports teammate Doug Kalitta, Leah Pruett, Clay Millican, Mike Salinas and Justin Ashley. It’s a big task, but Langdon is focused on that, as well as taking part in NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series action at Indy.
“I am going to be running Super Comp and Top Fuel this race so that will keep me busy,” Langdon said. “I like running the extra class because with only one nighttime pro session on Friday I can get my mind into race mode all day running my Super Comp dragster. I think it makes me a better racer because I am thinking about driving better, having good reaction times and I am focusing on all the small details. Keeping your mind active and focused is a big deal when you have a race as important as the U.S. Nationals.”
In Funny Car, Ron Capps picked up his first victory at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis a year ago when a trio of races took place at the facility during the pandemic before the U.S. Nationals, but he’s still searching for his first victory at the sport’s biggest race. He has the chance this weekend in his 11,000-horsepower NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, where a win would provide even more of a shake up in the loaded Funny Car points race.
Capps led in points after his victory in Pomona earlier this month, but the lead has since changed hands two more times since then, as there has now been a new points leader after each of the past four races. Bob Tasca III, Capps, John Force and now Capps’ Don Schumacher Racing teammate Matt Hagan have been atop the class, with Capps currently trailing by just 25 points heading into Indy.
“It’s been a long time, if ever, that we’ve the seen the points this close with so many different teams heading into Indy, the final opportunity to secure your starting position for the Countdown to the Championship playoffs,” Capps said. “With that being said, our goal is to do what we’ve done almost this whole season, and that’s qualify well. Our goal is to gain as many points as we need to be the regular season point leader come Monday morning following the U.S. Nationals. There’s a lot of teams vying for that.
“It’s very, very tight, and I’m pretty excited. These past two races, following our win in Pomona, we’ve seemed to lose a little bit of performance but (crew chiefs) Guido (Dean Antonelli) and John Medlen have been working on consistency. I’m pumped about getting to Indianapolis, it’s our biggest race of the season. I’ve never won the U.S. Nats, and I’d love nothing more than to deliver an Indy trophy.”
Pro Stock’s Enders came through in a major way, winning the U.S. Nationals for a second time en route to her second straight world title and fourth overall. Enders will have her hands full dealing with a class loaded with veteran and young talent, including points leader Greg Anderson, Aaron Stanfield, rookie Dallas Glenn, who has two wins this season, Matt Hartford, Troy Coughlin Jr. and Kyle Koretsky.
Pollacheck wouldn’t mind recreating the magic that helped him pick up his first career victory in Pro Stock Motorcycle at last year’s U.S. Nationals. He’ll try to slip past teammate and points leader Matt Smith, as well as Andrew Hines, Angelle Sampey, Eddie Krawiec, Ryan Oehler and Steve Johnson.
Drivers in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Series presented by J&A Service will also look to become winners of the prestigious event. It is the seventh event of the 2021 Pro Mod season and two-time defending world champ Stevie “Fast” Jackson is the defending winner of the event. The fastest Super Stock cars will challenge for ultimate bragging rights and bonus purse during the popular Dodge HEMI Challenge as well.
Racing in the NHRA Top Fuel Harley Drag Racing Series will also take place in Indy, along the popular Constant Aviation NHRA Factory Stock Showdown category. The Big Go also represents a huge weekend for sportsman racers for the second straight year, as the event features the popular JEGS Allstars bonus event. This pits the best NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series racers from across the country in individual and team competition, creating one of the most anticipated and unique weekends in sportsman racing.
The action doesn’t stop there, either. After nitro qualifying on both Friday and Saturday, fans can enjoy the entertaining “Walking Tall” P.T. Cruiser Wheelstander drive by “NitroMike,” while the weekend also includes a special display and exhibition passes from the popular ScottRods AA/Gassers and Nostalgia Pro Stock Association. The cars in each class will make a number of runs during the weekend and will also be displayed on the midway.
As always, fans are granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity gives fans a chance to see teams in action and service their hot rods between rounds.
NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature one round at 6:30 p.m. ET on Friday, Sept. 3 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, Sept. 4 at 1:00 and 4:45 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 10 a.m. ET on Sunday, Sept. 5.
Television coverage includes qualifying action from 7-9 p.m. ET on Friday, Sept. 3 on FS1 and from 9-11 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 5. Eliminations will be broadcast live from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on FS1 on Sunday, Sept. 5, moving to FOX from 1-4 p.m.