Shawn Langdon powered to his first Top Fuel victory since 2016 on Sunday at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis, capping off an impressive weekend with a win at drag racing’s biggest race, the 66th annual DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA U.S. Nationals.
Jack Beckman (Funny Car), Erica Enders (Pro Stock) and Scotty Pollacheck (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also won in their respective categories at the sixth race of the 2020 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season.
Langdon, who was also the No. 1 qualifier this weekend, went 3.705 seconds at 326.32 mph in his 11,000-horsepower DHL dragster (pictured) to beat Leah Pruett in the final round, winning for the 17th time in his career and second time at Indy. The victory marked a major moment for Langdon, a former Top Fuel world champ who moved to Funny Car in 2018 before switching back to Top Fuel in 2020. He knocked off Joey Haas, Cory McClenathan and Justin Ashley to reach the final round, where Langdon impressed with a .015 reaction time and had a superb start-to-finish run.
“There’s been a lot of hard work that has gone into this team,” Langdon said. “Working with (team owner) Connie (Kalitta) and the DHL team again, I love those guys and they’re all awesome. They proved that today. We’ve had an awesome car the entire weekend and it’s just a great team. How much work they put into this, it’s really impressive. This is an awesome deal, and when I hit the gas I knew we had it as long as we didn’t smoke the tires. I’m trying to give it everything I’ve got and my team did a great job.”
Pruett beat Terry McMillen, Tony Schumacher and Steve Torrence to reach her 16th final round.
Funny Car points leader Beckman continued his impressive 2020 campaign, going 3.908 at 327.35 in his 11,000-horsepower Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat to beat J.R. Todd in the final round, claiming his second win this year and 32nd overall. A day after Don Schumacher Racing claimed its 350th overall win, Beckman added to it on Sunday, also giving DSR its ninth straight Funny Car win dating back to last year. He beat Cruz Pedregon, teammate Ron Capps and Tim Wilkerson to reach the final round, edging out Todd in a close side-by-side race.
“If this is the last time I race at Indy, this team left nothing on the race track,” said Beckman, who reached his 67th career final round. “This is what drag racing is all about. I hope I can continue to keep doing this, but I’m going to revel in this right now. Our team was just awesome today.”
Todd reached his 35th final round by knocking off Blake Alexander, Dale Creasy Jr. and Matt Hagan.
A year after a heartbreaking defeat in the final round, defending world champ Enders enjoyed her U.S. Nationals redemption on Sunday, rolling to the Pro Stock win with a 6.606 at 208.55 in her Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro. She posted a sterling .009 reaction time against Matt Hartford in the final round and never trailed, winning for the second time in 2020 and 27th time in her career. To reach her 53rd career final round, Enders beat Kenny Delco, Deric Kramer and rookie Mason McGaha, picking up her second career U.S. Nationals victory a round later.
“This is really sweet and it means the world to me,” Enders said. “You work your entire life for something like this and it’s a dream come true. I’ve drag raced for 30 years and raced in Pro Stock for 16 years, and so many people have made this possible. This Chevy Camaro is mean, I’ve got the three baddest crew chiefs on the property in Rick Jones, Rickie Jones and Marc Ingersoll, and I’ve got the best team in the world. This is just amazing.”
Hartford beat Fernando Cuadra, Bo Butner and Jason Line to reach his eighth career final round.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Pollacheck capped off his dream weekend with his first career victory in the class, beating Andrew Hines in the final round with a 6.790 at 200.53 on his Strutmasters.com EBR, breaking the track speed record he set on Saturday in the process. Pollacheck also qualified No. 1 for just the second time in his career, advanced to the finals of the Mickey Thompson Pro Bike battle and joined the DENSO 200-mph club earlier in the weekend, finishing it off with the victory on the biggest possible stage. He raced past Michael Phillips, Angelle Sampey and Steve Johnson to reach the final round, riding past Hines in the finals and setting off an emotional celebration.
“There’s so many people that put in so much work and effort to help get us here,” Pollacheck said. “My wife, Susan, has really pushed me, and Matt and Angie Smith have given me an amazing bike. Michael Ray, my crew guy, he’s the baddest man on the planet. This bike was just flawless all weekend. This is like the biggest thing ever. I can’t even believe it. It’s just awesome.”
Hines, the defending world champ, topped John Hall, Matt Smith and Eddie Krawiec to advance to his 97th career final round.
The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series continues Sept. 25-27 with the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway.