Story By: NHRA – CHARLOTTE, NC – Heading into this weekend’s NGK NTK NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway, Top Fuel standout Shawn Langdon is looking forward to the chance to make history.
He is the most recent Funny Car winner in the race and having moved back to the Top Fuel ranks, the former NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series has the chance to be the first driver in NHRA history to win in both Top Fuel and Funny Car at a four-wide event.
Langdon went to the final quad in Top Fuel in both 2013 and 2014, and won in Funny Car in 2019, and the Kalitta Motorsports driver will have the chance to finish the job this weekend in Top Fuel in his 11,000-horsepower DHL dragster. Del Worsham and J.R. Todd are the only other drivers to reach a final in both nitro classes in the 11-year history of four-wide racing, and Langdon is eager for the chance to pick up an early-season win at the sport’s biggest spectacle.
“The facilities at zMAX Dragway are one of the best we have on our schedule, if not the best,” said Langdon, who has 17 career victories in his career. “It is accessible, they have really nice pits and a great racetrack. Those are all the things you look for when it comes to a great racetrack. They have it all.”
Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Langdon (Funny Car), and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were winners of the 2019 four-wide event, and this year’s race will be televised on FOX Sports 1 (FS1), including finals coverage starting at 6 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, May 16. Anticipation is high for the fourth race of the 2021 NHRA season, as all grandstanding seating for Saturday’s qualifying action is sold out, in accordance with current capacity limitations, while only limited tickets remain for Friday’s qualifying and Sunday eliminations.
Langdon has had a solid start to his 2021 campaign, advancing to the final round at the opener in Gainesville, but he’s still searching for that first victory. If he wins in Charlotte, he would be the fourth winner in the first four races, joining a group that includes Josh Hart, three-time defending world champ Torrence and Antron Brown, who won the most recent race in Atlanta. He’ll also have to contend with the likes of teammate Doug Kalitta, Clay Millican, Brittany Force, Leah Pruett, Billy Torrence and Justin Ashley this weekend.
“We have been in a good groove and at the last race in Atlanta we had some things fall our way,” Langdon said. “We are in contention and we are third in points. We still haven’t won a race yet, (but) I feel like we are there, and we definitely have an opportunity. We have the team and the resources to win races, led by (team owner) Connie Kalitta. Everything just needs to fall our way and I really feel like we have a competitive car that we can race for wins. We are looking to be racing for a championship at the end of the year.”
In Funny Car, Cruz Pedregon is the most recent active driver to win the four-wide event in Charlotte and it would be a great weekend for the former world champ to get his season going. Pedregon lost in the opening round at the past two races and will look to get on track at zMAX Dragway. He’s run well in the four-wide setting, and the 2018 win was his most recent Funny Car victory, but he’ll be challenged by the likes of points leader Bob Tasca III, who has back-to-back wins, John Force, defending world champ Matt Hagan, Ron Capps, Todd and Robert Hight.
“I love the four-wide race in general, just the uncertainty and challenge of it,” Pedregon said. “Charlotte has been one of my tracks where I’ve performed pretty well. I’ve made good runs there and it’s a real smooth, really nice track. We’re all ready for this weekend and Charlotte’s been good for us. We did well in Gainesville to open the year and we’re looking for more of that this weekend where we leave it all on the track.”
It will be the first four-wide appearance in Charlotte for Pro Stock since the 2018 season and Chris McGaha is the most recent winner among active drivers. Everyone is chasing points leader Greg Anderson, who has wins in two of the first three races. Others to watch include defending champ Erica Enders, Troy Coughlin Jr. and Deric Kramer.
Pro Stock Motorcycle’s Hines made his first start of 2021 in Atlanta, making his first 200-mph run and he’ll look to defend his four-wide crown in Charlotte. He’ll have to beat points leader and 2020 world champ Matt Smith, Atlanta winner Scotty Pollacheck and Ryan Oehler.
The E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Mod Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service will race for the third time in 2021 at Charlotte. Justin Bond is the most recent winner in the class. The race also includes thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, where future stars of the sport hone their skills. The drivers in Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car will also race in the four-wide format at zMAX Dragway for the first time.
After qualifying on Friday, fans can watch the thrilling “Diamond Jim Racing” jet Funny Car driven by April Crownhart-Swan and the “Mustang Sally” jet Funny Car driven by Paul Sieli. It will be the first-ever appearance at Charlotte for these two jet Funny Cars. Jet cars are thrust-driven propelled by jet engines with exciting pre-run flame shows.
The Southeast Nostalgia Pro Stock Association will also be in action during the weekend at zMAX Dragway, as well as the ScottRods AA/Gassers. Both classes will make runs throughout the weekend, and all the cars will be on display in a special pit display at the track.
NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature one round at 7 p.m. ET on Friday, May 14, with the two final rounds slated for 1:15 p.m. and 4:45 p.m. on Saturday, May 15. Final eliminations are scheduled for 12 p.m. on Sunday, May 16. Television coverage includes qualifying action on FS1 at 7 p.m. ET on Saturday, May 15, and eliminations beginning at 6 p.m. on Sunday, May 16 on FS1.