x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Emriati driver Al Balooshi and teammate find form.

Qatar Al Anabi Racing driver Khalid Al Balooshi, bottom, leads his foursome in Charlotte two weeks ago. Courtesy Ron Lewis
Qatar Al Anabi Racing driver Khalid Al Balooshi, bottom, leads his foursome in Charlotte two weeks ago. Courtesy Ron Lewis

After some recent struggles, a fine performance in Charlotte two weeks ago has the Qatar Al Anabi Racing Top Fuel team on the rise going into this weekend’s round six of the US drag racing season in Baytown, Texas.

The three-time and defending world champions moved into fourth place in the NHRA Mello Yello Top Fuel point standings when Shawn Langdon qualified first – his best performance of the season – in Charlotte and made it to the final.

Teammate Khalid Al Balooshi posted an impressive qualifying performance in Charlotte, coming in No 3 and then making the semi-finals.

It was a contrast to the first four races of the season, where a series of disappointments had left the Al Anabi pair in sixth and seventh spot in the title standings.

“I feel great about what’s going on with our race team right now,” Langdon said ahead of the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals, which start today.

“The Al Anabi car has definitely been making big improvements in the areas that we’ve been working on for the last few races. Even though we struggled at the beginning of the year, we still felt like we had a great car.”

One year ago in Baytown, which is 40 kilometres east of Houston, Langdon was the No 3 qualifier and raced to the final round of eliminations where he lost to veteran racer Bob Vandergriff.

“We did well in Houston last year,” Langdon said.

“We made a little mistake in the final and the car smoked the tires at the starting line.

“We were able to learn from that and that actually helped us get the car running quite a bit better throughout the rest of the year.”

Al Balooshi enters the race with similar optimism. The Emirati, who won the season’s first race in February, posted their best qualifying effort of the season last time out.

One year ago, Al Balooshi was the No 2 qualifier – his career best. He advanced to the semi-finals where Langdon ended his day.

“I think our car will also be fast this weekend. We started out the season perfectly, but after that, we had some tough races,” said Al Balooshi.

“I have been talking with our crew chief, Jason [McCulloch], and after Charlotte, I think we have our hot rod back.“