A rewarding part of Shawn Langdon’s return to his home track in Pomona this past week was mingling with teenage drivers in the amateur drag-racing classes.
“They say, ‘Hey, I want to race top fuel some day,’” said Langdon, a 31-year-old Mira Loma native who tagged along with his racing father, Chad, to Pomona and came up through the sport’s junior circuit. “I tell them, ‘I was just like you 15 or 20 years ago.’ I didn’t have much more than a dream to drive a top-fuel car.”
Langdon capped a dream season, one in which he clinched his first top-fuel world championship and the $500,000 bonus that goes with it on Saturday, with four wins in Sunday’s Auto Club NHRA Finals, including a title-run victory over Doug Kalitta of Ypsilanti, Mich.
Langdon covered 1,000 feet in 3.784 seconds at 323.58 mph on his final run to give him bookend wins at Pomona — he opened 2013 by winning the Winternationals here in February — and his seventh win of the year.
“This weekend is the top of the cake,” said Langdon, who drives for the Alan Johnson-led Al-Anabi Racing team. “This is what I envisioned as a kid wanting to be a professional drag racer — sitting in the press room, winning Pomona, winning the championship, being part of a great team.
“When all your dreams come true and you’re part of something special, you’re almost at a loss for words. I know this is going to sink in in a few days, but right now I’m still up on cloud nine.”
Matt Hagan prevented a tour de Force in the funny car division, edging out veteran John Force in the final with a 4.018-second pass at 320.66 mph. Hagan dedicated the win to his crew chief, Dickie Venables, who was in Indianapolis recovering from intestinal surgery.
Force, who clinched his 16th points title two weeks ago in Las Vegas and was timed at 4.057 seconds at 317.94 mph in the final, barely made it out of the second round.
In his quarterfinal heat, Force’s Castrol GTX Ford Mustang came off the line like a bucking bronco out of the gate, hurtling from side to side and nearly crossing the center line — an automatic disqualification — in the first 100 feet.
But Jeff Arend’s problems next door were worse. Arend smoked his tires off the line and never found his grip, his 11.45-second, 67-mph pass giving Force enough time to recover for a 5.53-second, 184-mph run, by far his worst of the meet but enough to advance.
Jeg Coughlin of Delaware, Ohio, clinched the 2013 pro stock points championship and $250,000 in prize money with his first-round win and Jason Line’s quarterfinal loss. Coughlin lost to Allen Johnson in the quarterfinals, and Johnson lost to Rickie Jones of Galesburg, Ill., in the final.
Eddie Krawiec of Brownsburg, Ind., won the pro stock motorcycle final, defeating Scotty Pollacheck of Medford, Ore., with a run of 6.918 seconds at 192.41 mph.