NASCAR & Auto Racing

National Hot Rod Association blasts its way to Concord drag strip this weekend

Shawn Langdon won the Funny Car Division at the Four-Wide Nationals at zMax Dragway in April.
Shawn Langdon won the Funny Car Division at the Four-Wide Nationals at zMax Dragway in April. HHP/HAROLD HINSON

Teammates Shawn Langdon and J.R. Todd have arrived for this weekend’s Carolina Nationals at Concord’s zMax Dragway with plenty of momentum.

Langdon and Todd — both of whom race for Indianapolis-based Kalitta Motorsports — drove in the Funny Car finals of last week’s National Hot Association’s Midwest Nationals in Madison, Ill.

Langdon beat Todd, and they’re both within striking distance of points leader Robert Hight as the NHRA’s Countdown to the Championship continues at the Concord strip

The Kalitta teammates are two of the NHRA’s more versatile drivers. They’ve also been successful in the circuit’s other powerful, nitro division, Top Fuel Dragster. Langdon began his career as a Top Fuel driver in 2009 and won 14 times before switching to Funny Car in 2018. He won his first Funny Car race in April at the Four-Wide Nationals at zMax.

Todd, the 2018 Funny Car champion, has nine career victories in that division to go along with nine Top Fuel victories. He became the first African-American winner in Top Fuel when he won in Denver in 2006.

Both are happy to be Funny Car drivers now.

“It would be hard to relearn everything,” Langdon said. “You’d have to retrain, and really learn how to drive one of those dragsters again.”

Said Todd: “You can’t really go back and re-create something again, do it twice. I’m all in for Funny Car now.”

Here’s a snapshot look at how the countdown races are shaping up in the NHRA’s top four divisions:

Top Fuel Dragster: Doug Kalitta — another Kalitta Motorsports driver — leads the division ... barely. He’s two points up on 2018 champion Steve Torrence. Billy Torrence, Steve’s dad, beat his son in the finals last week in Illinois.

Funny Car: Hight has a 13-point leader over his father-in-law, John Force, who is going for his 22nd Funny Car championship. Langdon’s victory last week moved him into seventh place, while Todd is fifth.

Pro Stock: This is a three-driver race between leader Jason Line, Erica Enders (11 points back) and Bo Buther (22 behind). Concord’s Greg Anderson, a four-time champion who has two victories this season, is in seventh.

Pro Stock Motorcycle: Andrew Hines has a 34-point lead over Karen Stoffer. Hines won seven races during the regular season, but has yet to win in the countdown.

NHRA schedule

Friday: 3:30 p.m., Pro stock qualifying; 4:15 p.m., Nitro qualifying; 6 p.m., Pro stock qualifying; 6:45 p.m., Nitro qualifying.

Saturday: 1:15 p.m., Pro stock qualifying; 2 p.m., Nitro qualifying; 3:45 p.m., Pro stock qualifying, 4:30 p.m., Nitro qualifying.

Sunday: Noon, Nitro eliminations Round 1; 1 p.m., Pro stock eliminations Round 1; 2 p.m., Nitro eliminations round 2; 2:30 p.m., Pro stock eliminations Round 2; 3:30 p.m., Nitro semifinals; 3:45 p.m., Pro stock semifinals; 4:45 p.m., Pro stock finals; 4:50, Nitro finals.

David Scott: @davidscott14