When the 2012 NHRA drag racing season ended, it was obvious that one team was the standout over all the others, at least as far as the nitro classes were concerned. In Top Fuel, the Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) trio of Antron Brown (2012 champion), Tony Schumacher and Spencer Massey sat atop the final standings. However, there was another team moving up at years end and they have continued that momentum into 2013: Alan Johnson’s Al Anabi Racing team. It appears a battle is brewing for the championship between these two powerful crews.
Currently, seven-time champion Tony Schumacher of DSR leads Shawn Langdon of Al Anabi by just 34 points after eight rounds of racing in 2013. DSR teams, Antron Brown and Spencer Massey are third and fourth overall with Khalid alBalooshi of Al Anabi sixth. Doug Kalitta breaks up the two team battle, sitting fifth in the current standings.
Langdon’s car was making in-roads last season, especially near the end of the year, and with that surge was able to grab fourth overall when 2012 ended. Now in 2013, it seems Langdon’s ground-pounding behemoth, with crew chief Brian Husen turning the wrenches, is ready to challenge the fire-breathing monsters of DSR.
The 30 year old Langdon has two wins, including the opener at the Winternationals in Pomona and the just concluded Kansas Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka (source: Topeka Capital Journal). The Californian’s teammate 33 year old alBalooshi from the Emirates, with crew chief Jason McCulloch doing the tuning, has been steady all year and appears to have found a comfort zone after having a less than stellar 2012 season, finishing outside the Countdown (playoffs).
Arguably, the DSR organization was the team to beat heading into 2013. And essentially that’s still true. Last year’s champion Brown is competing at about the same level this season and won’t be easy to knock him off. Tony Schumacher is back to his championship form and with seven titles under his belt, he’s surely one to watch. Plus, Massey is hungry to win his first championship and given a second chance after almost losing his ride, Spencer will be fighting it out in the thick of the battle.
However, Alan Johnson has made a statement that he and his team will have to be reckoned with in 2013. Langdon has always been known as one of the better drivers and certainly is quite the leaver on the lights. Also, alBalooshi is emerging as a contender and remember, Khalid knows what it takes to win, having won the ProMod championship just two years ago.
Yes, Kalitta Motorsports will be more than capable of winning a race or two during the year but it is becoming more and more apparent that the DSR and Al Anabi teams are at the head of the class. There are 10 additional events until the series hits the Countdown and that’s when winning really matters. And it’s evident that the Schumacher and Johnson teams will be at the front when the season comes to an end.
Additional source: NHRA