POMONA, Calif. (AP) — Shawn Langdon moved into position to wrap up his first Top Fuel season championship as early as Saturday, leading qualifying Friday in the season-ending Auto Club NHRA Finals.
Langdon opened a 104-point lead over defending champ Antron Brown and will take the title if he holds a lead of 100 points or more at the end of qualifying Saturday.
Langdon gained a point when he powered his dragster to a 3.750-second run at 327.03 mph to maintain the top spot in the qualifying order. Brown was second again with a 3.775 at 322.42.
"The whole Al-Anabi team has done such a phenomenal job," Langdon said. "You see the hard work and the determination that goes into everything they do throughout the season, but there's something different when it gets to Countdown time. You see everybody dig that much deeper, work that much harder, and stay that much later to make sure that everything is absolutely perfect from top to bottom."
John Force, the 64-year-old star who wrapped up his 16th Funny Car title in the last event in Las Vegas, also topped qualifying along with Mike Edwards in Pro Stock and Hector Arana Jr. in Pro Stock Motorcycle.
Force had a 4.015 at 318.62 in a Ford Mustang.
Edwards finished in 6.545 at 211.66 in a Chevy Camaro. Series leader Jeg Coughlin, seeking his fifth Pro Stock title, held onto second place in the qualifying order with a 6.552 at 210.77 in a Dodge Avenger.
Arana had a 6.837 at 195.51 on a Buell. Matt Smith also wrapped up the title in Las Vegas.