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Brown Wins Pep Boys Top Fuel All-Star Callout; Langdon, Prock, Enders & Herrera Qualify No. 1 at Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals

Antron Brown picked up the victory in the Pep Boys NHRA Top Fuel All-Star Callout on Saturday at Gainesville Raceway in front of a capacity crowd, knocking off Brittany Force in the final round of the specialty race as part of this weekend’s 55th Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway.

Shawn Langdon (Top Fuel), Austin Prock (Funny Car), Erica Enders (Pro Stock) and Gaige Herrera (Pro Stock Motorcycle) all qualified No. 1 at the first of 21 races during the 2024 NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series.

Brown went 3.709-seconds at 332.43 mph in his 11,000-horsepower Matco Tools Toyota dragster, taking down Force’s 3.730 at 328.70. It gave Brown, who defeated Langdon and Steve Torrence earlier in the day, his first Pep Boys All-Star Callout victory, a big payday in the specialty event and a stellar way to start his 2024 NHRA season.

“Our guys had a chance to keep picking at it, and keep picking at it, and we knew it was going to be a tough round against Brittany, another world champion,” Brown said. “Everyone we raced today was a world champion. We knew we had to step it up against her, but we had the added pressure of qualifying. So, to go out there and do what we did and run that 3.709 and move up to fourth on the ladder and get this Pep Boys All-Star Callout win is pretty special. 

“It’s going to be tough competition tomorrow on race day. The field is tight, but hopefully we can parlay that and get better tomorrow. We’ve been getting better and better with each lap, and that’s when you get dangerous. I’m focused, and my boys are giving me a hot rod that can do the job, and that’s what it takes. We have an incredible team and we’re looking forward to this 2024 season.”

Langdon earned his first No. 1 spot since 2020, closing out qualifying with a 3.682 at 334.15 under the lights in his 11,000-horsepower Kalitta Air Careers Toyota dragster. After naming Brian Husen crew chief heading into the season, Langdon is already off to a great start, making a pair of runs in the 3.60s this weekend. He’ll now look to pick up his first win since the 2020 NHRA U.S. Nationals as well.

“That just shows the changes we’ve made, with Brian coming in, the changes have shown great rewards so far,” Langdon said. “Brian has a really good control of the car right now. It’s really cool to see and I’m really proud of him. I’m excited that he has this opportunity and I’m really lucky to be his driver. We know what this team is capable, so we’re looking forward to a great year.”

Langdon took the second spot with a 3.690 at 333.08 and defending event winner Mike Salinas qualified third after going 3.705. Tony Stewart qualified ninth in his Top Fuel debut with a 3.725 310.34.

In Funny Car, Prock maintained the No. 1 spot on the strength of Friday’s track-record run of 3.820-seconds at 334.65 mph in his 11,000-horsepower Cornwell Tools/AAA Chevrolet Camaro SS. It was a sterling qualifying performance in his first NHRA Funny Car race, as Prock made three strong passes heading into eliminations, where he’ll face off with John Smith in the opening round.

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“I’m very excited for tomorrow. We really couldn’t have done much better,” Prock said. “I’m happy with this No. 1 qualifier and we’re really going to have to see what it looks like in the morning. If the track is like what it was today or Friday, you’re going to be throwing Hail Mary’s. I’m really looking forward to getting out there in my first NHRA Funny Car start and get this car in the winner’s circle.

Bob Tasca III stayed second with his 3.829 at 337.75, also setting a new track speed record on Saturday after going 338.09. Ron Capps took the third position with a 3.871 at 333.00.

Erica Enders stayed No. 1 in Pro Stock, picking up her 35th career top qualifier, after going 6.549 at 208.10 in her Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage/Melling Performance/SCAG Power Equipment car. She’ll open up eliminations against Kelley Murphy and has a great opportunity to win the Gatornationals for the first time.

“We’ve got a really great race car this weekend, so it seems to be translating very well,” Enders said. “But there’s a lot of really great cars out there and great drivers, so we just have to put our heads down and go to work, and hope for no parts failures or weird things happening. But I feel good and I feel confident in the cockpit.”

Enders’ Elite Motorsports teammate Cristian Cuadra stayed second after a run of 6.552 at 209.10 on Friday and Dallas Glenn’s 6.556 at 208.59 gave him the third slot.

Gaige Herrera improved on Friday’s two runs, taking his 10th straight No. 1 qualifier on his RevZilla/Mission Foods/Vance & Hines Suzuki with a run of 6.746 at 200.50. It continues a remarkable run for the defending event winner, who won his first race in the class a year ago in Gainesville. He’ll look to repeat that on Sunday, opening eliminations against Joey Gladstone.

“I’m very pleased and we were happy to improve a little bit,” Herrera said. “I’m feeling comfortable and confident going into tomorrow. It’s very cool to come back here and start off where we left off to end last year. I’ve got to give all the credit to my team. They haven’t missed a beat, so it feels good to come back here and basically start like we did last year.”

Matt Smith improved to a 6.768 at 202.45 to stay second, while LE Tonglet qualified third with a 6.771 at 197.88.

Eliminations for the 55th annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals begin at 10:30 a.m. ET on Sunday at Gainesville Raceway.

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This story was originally published on March 10, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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