Alan Johnson Racing and 2013 Top Fuel World Champion Shawn Langdon will withdraw temporarily from NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series competition effective immediately, the team announced today. When the team is successful in acquiring adequate sponsorship, it will resume competition.
Alan Johnson Racing announced Jan. 5 that it lost its sponsorship approximately a week before leaving for pre-season testing and a month before the start of the 2015 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season. The team made the commitment to race the season’s first two events, won the season-opening Circle K Winternationals and made what was then the quickest run in the history of the sport during the event. Subsequent races in Gainesville, Fla., and Charlotte, N.C., were added to the schedule. Toyota Motor Sales, Alan Johnson Racing’s longest-standing sponsor having first sponsored the team in 2001, increased its support prior to the Charlotte event allowing the team to compete as it searched for sponsorship.
In the last three races, the team has a runner-up finish and two semifinal appearances; last month in Brainerd, Minn., the Knuckle Sandwich Toyota dragster recorded a 3.662-second elapsed time – the quickest in NHRA history. Following mid-season struggles, the team finished the regular season in good form and was seeded sixth in the Countdown to the Championship NHRA Playoffs which begin a six-race run this weekend at zMAX Dragway near Charlotte.
However, despite exhaustive efforts that began in early January, sufficient sponsorship has not yet been secured. Due to the lack of funding, Alan Johnson Racing will temporarily suspend racing operations. Alan Johnson Racing won NHRA Mello Yello Top Fuel World Championships in 2013, ’11, ’10, ’00, 1998 and 1997 and was poised for a run at the 2015 World Title.
“We are extremely disappointed to make this decision, but at this point, it is our best option,” team owner Alan Johnson said. “The AJR marketing staff has worked diligently throughout the year securing funding to complete the 2015 season; unfortunately we have come up a bit short. The process of securing funding is still ongoing, but our focus has shifted to the 2016 season. I want to thank our great partners and friends at Toyota Motor Sales for their support during this difficult season. Their commitment to our team over the past 15 years has been tremendous, and this year in particular has been invaluable. I also want to thank the entire AJR race team and support staff for their loyalty and commitment. This break will result in some of our crew members moving on to other opportunities, and we wish them all the best. Lastly, I want to thank our loyal fans for their encouragement and support throughout this difficult year. We have every intention of returning to NHRA Drag Racing in 2016; I’ll keep you posted.”
Alan Johnson Racing is located in Brownsburg, Ind. Alan Johnson has won 11 NHRA Mello Yello Top Fuel World Championships with five different drivers: Gary Scelzi, Tony Schumacher, Larry Dixon, Del Worsham and Shawn Langdon; he is a 15-time NHRA national champion. For additional information on Alan Johnson Racing and driver Shawn Langdon, please visitwww.alanjohnsonracing.com; get Alan Johnson Racing news through its Facebook page or on Twitter: @AJRTopFuel.