After completing a rare December test session last month and reviewing the data, the Al-Anabi Racing team has paired its new drivers with the team's crew chiefs. In the process, driver Khalid alBalooshi earned his Top Fuel license while driver Shawn Langdon got some valuable seat time in his new ride.
With both the Al-Anabi silver and gold teams featuring new drivers in 2012, Langdon in the silver car and alBalooshi in the gold car, team manager Alan Johnson added last month's test session to provide an opportunity for alBalooshi to get his license, test some parts and begin building the relationships necessary to compete in NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing.
After reviewing the data from last month's test session and thinking about the different experience levels and personalities, Johnson determined his driver-crew chief pairings ahead of the team's next West Palm Beach test session later this month. alBalooshi will work with 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Top Fuel champion crew chief Jason McCulloch on the gold team while Langdon will be paired with 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Top Fuel champion crew chief Brian Husen on the silver team.
“Jason McCulloch is our most experienced crew chief, so we decided it would be best to pair him with our rookie driver so that Jason can work with alBalooshi to make him as comfortable as possible,” Johnson said. “We also felt Shawn Langdon and Brian Husen would work well together so it all just worked out nicely. We feel this arrangement will allow both teams to get up to speed in the least amount of time. Our December test, while primarily planned for alBalooshi to get his license, turned out to be quite helpful in making our personnel decisions.”
Pursuant to NHRA requirements, alBalooshi worked through the licensing procedures completing passes of short and intermediate lengths before making two full 1,000ft passes to earn his Top Fuel license completing runs in 3.86sec at 319mph and 3.85sec at 318mph.
“We don't usually consider testing in December but given the circumstances we felt we should get a head start on the 2012 season,” Johnson said. “We are very pleased with alBalooshi's progress in adapting to the Top Fuel car. Now with the licensing procedure behind us we can get him back to West Palm Beach in a couple of weeks for more experience driving one of the world's fastest cars.”
“I am very happy to have my (Top Fuel) license,” alBalooshi said. “From where I started my racing career, it was a big jump to drive Top Fuel. I never thought Top Fuel was possible until three years ago when I tested a Fuel dragster in West Palm Beach. I could not have done it without the Al-Anabi team behind me. I am very happy to have the opportunity, and the team took such good care of me that I did not have time to be nervous. The team did a great job instructing me from the beginning of the process. I relied on the team and all of my years in racing to keep me calm.
“Every detail is taken care of. I am so happy with my fire suit and all of the safety equipment from Stand 21, and I thank Stand 21 for all of the help because I feel safe in the car. I need to continue making more runs to figure out what I need to change and how I can get better in the car. Thanks to Sheik Khalid and Alan Johnson for this opportunity, and thanks to everyone on the Al-Anabi team for making me feel so welcome and comfortable.”
In the Al-Anabi silver car, Langdon made multiple runs in the low to mid 3.80sec range. His best run was 3.799sec at 317.79mph.
“It felt really good being in the car,” Langdon said. “There's a lot of things that were new to me, but also a lot that were the same. It was mostly trying to get acclimated to the car and the procedures the team uses. It took a little getting used to. They run the car really aggressive, and they run the car pretty hard. I got my career best 3.79 in the first couple of days, and I'm excited to get back to West Palm this month for preseason testing so we can keep bettering that career best and get ready for Pomona (O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, Calif.).”
“The December test also gave us an opportunity to give Shawn Langdon a few runs in his new car,” Johnson said. “After all, once the racetrack has been prepped, testing two cars is actually better than just one. We were able to let Shawn get acquainted with his car and our team as well as test a few new parts we did not have the chance to try during 2011 season. Last month's test was a vital step for our new-look Al-Anabi Racing team.”