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NHRA Story » Langdon, Gray, Edwards secure No. 1 qualifying positions in Phoenix
Langdon, Gray, Edwards secure No. 1 qualifying positions in Phoenix
Saturday, February 18, 2012



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Johnny Gray held on to the No. 1 spot in Funny Car Saturday as qualifying came to an end at the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Firebird Int'l Raceway. Shawn Langdon (Top Fuel) and Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) also were qualifying leaders in their categories at the second of 23 races in the 2012 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season.
Gray powered his Service Central Dodge Charger to a 4.074-second pass, the quickest lap of the weekend, at 298.93 mph Friday night and kept the top spot through Saturday qualifying to secure his second No. 1 qualifying position.
Johnny Gray

“Rob [Wendland, crew chief] backed the thing down and got it ready for tomorrow,” said Gray. “He said we ought to run about a 4.12, and that’s what we ran, so we’re real confident going into tomorrow that we’ve got the Service Central/Big O car ready to compete. The car really ran good at the end of last year, and we runner-upped here last year. We just missed it by a hair in the final, so hopefully we can end up back there and learn from the mistake we made here last year and go ahead and win this thing.”
Gray will face Grant Downing in the first round of eliminations on Sunday. Recent race winner John Force qualified fifth in the field, and defending event winner Jack Beckman qualified sixth. Rookie Courtney Force raced to the 12th qualifying spot, and fellow rookie and Kalitta Motorsports driver Alexis DeJoria’s pass of 4.296 was not strong enough to secure her a spot in Sunday’s eliminations.
Shawn Langdon

After setting the track record Friday night, Langdon kept his Al-Anabi Racing dragster in the top spot in Top Fuel through Saturday qualifying. Langdon’s Friday night pass of 3.754 at 323.12 stayed strong enough to secure him his second No. 1 qualifying position.
“It feels great to qualify No. 1 in just the second race of the year,” said Langdon. “I’m still trying to process all this stuff and catch up with these [Al-Anabi team] guys. They are so good. Giving me such a good race car helps my confidence as a driver. Race day will be different than qualifying. There’s a lot more pressure. But it’s nothing that this team can’t handle. As a driver, I will try to do the best job I can. I hope to move forward and get my first win.”
Langdon will pair up against Troy Buff in the first round of eliminations Sunday. Three-time Firebird Int'l Raceway winner Tony Schumacher secured the second spot in the field, and Schumacher’s teammate Antron Brown locked in the fifth spot.
Mike Edwards

In Pro Stock, Edwards took the top spot from Friday qualifying leader Jason Line when he powered his Penhall/Interstate Batteries Pontiac GXP to a 6.536 at 210.80. The pass not only set the track e.t. record, but also secured Edwards his 40th No. 1 qualifier, fourth consecutive at Firebird Int'l Raceway, and fifth overall at the track.
“There’s something about the desert,” said Edwards. “Our car seems to run really good here. I can’t put my finger on why this happens, but we even ran good in the heat here last year. Anytime that you can qualify No. 1, it’s really good for us. But we’ll have to work hard to stay up there because Jason and Greg [Anderson] really came on strong in the final qualifying session.”
Edwards will face NHRA legend Warren Johnson in the first round of eliminations on Sunday. Line qualified second, and recent race winner Anderson qualified fifth.

Eliminations for the NHRA Arizona Nationals begin Sunday at 11 a.m.

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Friday: Langdon, Gray, Line race to No. 1 qualifying spots Friday in Phoenix
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