Are Englishtown Winners Revealed As 2013 NHRA Champions?


Summernational winners clockwise from top left: Shawn Langdon, Matt Hagan, Mike Edwards and Michael Ray

Attributed to Mark J. Rebilas

The just concluded Summernationals in Englishtown, New Jersey, at Old Bridge Township Raceway produced winners in the four Pro categories that just may be the champions at season’s end.

Top Fuel saw Shawn Langdon of Al Anabi Racing mow through the field with low Elapse Time (ET) every round, beating his teammate Khalid alBalooshi in the finals.  Matt Hagan continued his vast improvement this season with a victory in the finals over reigning Funny Car champ and teammate Jack Beckman.  The Pro Stock ladder was dominated once again by a red-hot Mike Edwards who had low ET throughout the day, beating the current class champion Allen Johnson in the finals.  And finally, Michael Ray showed the Pro Stock Motorcycle ranks that George Brice’s Sovereign Star team will have to be dealt with this a season, when Ray won on the second of two hole-shots during the day to beat Hector Arana for the win.

So might these four winners be a glimpse into the future as to who will win their respective titles?

Certainly the Al Anabi team has been coming on strong since the end of last season and Allan Johnson’s organization is a legitimate challenger this year for the once dominant Don Schumacher Racing (DSR).  2013 appeared to be the DSR’s Top Fuel championship to lose; but, currently Langdon sits atop the standings, even though it’s only by a mere four points.  After winning the season-opener, Langdon and the team had struggled some but two semifinals, a final, plus two wins over the last five events has made Langdon the car to beat.

Matt Hagan, who won the Funny Car championship two seasons ago but inexplicably missed last year’s Countdown (playoffs), appears to be back on track after winning his second meet of the year at Englishtown.  Hagan was in a terrible slump last year as the team could never get the car to run consistently.  This season, Dickie Venables was added as Hagan’s Crew Chief and the combination has worked wonders with Hagan over two rounds ahead of second place.

In Pro Stock, the man on a mission is Mike Edwards.  He has not let up with eight, count them eight, number one qualifying spots along with three wins this year.  Edwards is the kind of driver who when he gets hot, nobody is going to beat him.  The #1 qualifier was Edwards 49th of his career and coupled with gaining a lot of little points along the way, the 2009 champ has a sizable 152 point lead at this stage of the season.

Michael Ray is somewhat of a newcomer to the Pro Stock Motorcycle ranks and was just signed this past offseason to Sovereign Star Racing.  The 28 year old was an AHDRA rider before making his Pro Stock debut six years ago, but last year was his first full-time season in the NHRA.  After a couple of first round losses to start the season, Ray and his team have come on strong with a semifinal appearance and then the win at Englishtown.  The series was dominated by the Harleys until this year, but it seems the Buell’s are the bikes to beat; so, a battle between Sovereign Star and the Arana family looks likely.

Much of what was seen at the Summernationals is to be expected for the remaining part of the season, with these four winners either in the thick of the Countdown title hunt or earning the championship outright.  Remember, you saw it here first.

Source: NHRA

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