Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Langdon Edges Ahead in Top Fuel; NHRA; He Has Top Spot Going to Sunday's Finals at Gateway Motorsports Park; MOTOR SPORTS

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Langdon Edges Ahead in Top Fuel; NHRA; He Has Top Spot Going to Sunday's Finals at Gateway Motorsports Park; MOTOR SPORTS

Article excerpt

MADISON * Driver Shawn Langdon wanted to earn bonus points during the four qualifying sessions Friday and Saturday to retake the lead in the National Hot Rod Association Top Fuel standings.

That's what he did at the second annual AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park.

Langdon, 31 of Mira Loma, Calif., also earned the No. 1 qualifying spot for Sunday's eliminations, where he'll face No. 16 Troy Buff.

Being on top is also where Langdon wants to be in the Countdown to the Championship of the NHRA playoffs as he tries to win his first series title.

The Gateway stop is the third of six events that comprise the Countdown and is race No. 21 of 24 on the schedule.

Eliminations for Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle begin at 11 a.m.

"We were just trying to race smart to get those bonus points and get the points lead," said Langdon, who earned his sixth No. 1 pole and second in succession. "We were able to accomplish that and get the No. 1 qualifier in the process and put ourselves in a good position for (Sunday)."

Langdon had a pass of 3.761 seconds at 326.40 miles per hour Friday night which stood up through the final two qualifying sessions on Saturday.

He also entered the weekend tied with Doug Kalitta in the points standings with 2,251. He'll begin Sunday with 2,297 points, 13 in front of Kalitta, who qualified 10th and will face No. 7 Morgan Lucas.

"Every point counts," Langdon said. "It's little by little. One point at a time. They'll all add up in the end. Just don't beat ourselves. That's the biggest thing."

Funny Car driver Matt Hagan (2,316) earned his fifth No. 1 spot of the season and extended his lead over Cruz Pedregon (2,253) after earning the top spot Friday night with his track record elapsed time (4.001) and speed (320.20). The time and speed stood up on Saturday.

"I feel (Friday) we set ourselves up where we need to be and (Saturday) you come out and you try to work on race-day setup," said Hagan, who faces No. 16 Daniel Wilkerson on Sunday. "My mentality is to come out here and drive my race car. Do what we know how to do ... drive down the racetrack. Make it into a phenomenal weekend. …

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